Peoples Democratic Party President Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday alleged that she had been “placed under house arrest as usual” while she was trying to visit the family of a teenaged boy who was killed in an alleged staged encounter. Athar Mushtaq was killed in an alleged gunfight in Srinagar’s Lawaypora neighbourhood on December 30 along with two others.
Mufti accused the Narendra Modi government of putting up a facade of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, where opposition to the Centre has deepened after it revoked the region’s semi-autonomy in 2019. She said she was being stopped from visiting different areas of the Valley without being informed about the reasons.
“Placed under house arrest as usual for trying to visit the family of Athar Mushtaq killed allegedly in a fake encounter,” Mufti wrote on Twitter. “His father was booked under UAPA [Unlawful Activities Prevention Act] for demanding his dead body. This the normalcy GOI [government of India] wants to showcase to the EU delegation visiting Kashmir.”
On February 8, the Jammu and Kashmir Police had booked Athar Mushtaq’s father, Mushtaq Wani, and seven others under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for allegedly “organising illegal processions under criminal conspiracy”.
Wani and other relatives of the teenager have alleged that the trio was killed by the military in a fake gunbattle on December 30. The police have denied this, claiming that all three had links to militants. The families of the three have been holding protests and demanding the return of the bodies.
Mufti alleged that the authorities had buried the bodies without informing the family. “This reign of suppression and terror in Kashmir is the unvarnished and unpalatable truth that GOI wants to hide from the rest of the country,” she said. “A 16-year-old is killed and then hurriedly buried denying his family the right and chance to perform his last rites.”
The PDP leader claimed the gate of her house was locked and additional security forces were put outside it to stop her from leaving the residence.
The former chief minister also uploaded a video of her speaking with the security staff at her “Fairview” residence in the Gupkar area of Srinagar. In the video, when Mehbooba asks the security personnel why she was being stopped from visiting Pulwama, they tell her there is a “security problem”.
“Why am I not being allowed to go?” she can be heard telling the officers. “Am I a prisoner, or a criminal? What is the reason? Show me the orders, the sections, under which I am being detained.”
Referring to the upcoming visit of a delegation of the European Union, Mehbooba asked the officials how can the security forces secure them when they cannot provide security to the locals. “When you cannot provide security to me, how are you going to secure the delegation?” she said. “You cannot keep the gates of my residence locked always, she says in the video.”