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'Please don't think Kashmiris have accepted it'

By ARCHANA MASIH
August 07, 2020 11:10 IST
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'Please don't think that Kashmiris have accepted the abrogation of Article 370.'
'Please don't misconstrue silence as acceptance.'

IMAGE: Security personnel in Srinagar.

"The Covid lockdown is just an excuse for the government to deploy more armed forces and checkpoints to humiliate people in Kashmir."

Iltija Mufti, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's daughter, speaks to Rediff.com's Archana Masih in the concluding segment of a two-part interview.

 

IMAGE: A sample being collected for a COVID-19 test in Srinagar. All Photographs: Umar Ganie for Rediff.com

Do you feel people have come to terms with this new altered situation post the annulment of Article 370? And that at this moment they are more concerned about Covid than what happened a year ago?

If that was so, we would have had 3G by now.

The government is worried about restoring it because they know that people are going to start collecting in huge numbers to protest.

This political dispensation doesn't have the ability to accept any kind of criticism.

No, please don't think that Kashmiris have accepted this.

Please don't misconstrue silence as acceptance.

This has always happened in Kashmir. Whenever we have been pushed, the situation seems calm on the surface for some time, but then something has happened which has triggered all of that anger that's brewing inside to come out.

Sometimes, reactions take time. I can assure you if the government hadn't put severe restrictions, people would have come out on the streets already.

The problem is that since last year they've created this atmosphere of uncertainty.

They detained a five-time chief minister in his 80s and kept him under house arrest.

They have arrested so many political leaders and even people from civil society, then how do you expect people to come out and protest?

Were there any high points in this year?

There have been no high points, but you shouldn't be a pessimist and take everything negatively.

At the end of the day, I feel that I learned a lot. I have become wiser.

When you're thrown into the deep end, you have to sink or swim.

I have to fight for my mother (Mehbooba Mufti continues to be under house arrest). It has only strengthened my feeling as a daughter to speak up for her.

I'll do it again. I don't regret any of it.

IMAGE: A worker cleans the COVID-19 centre set up by the government in Srinagar.

How do you see the rest of the year panning out in Kashmir, especially when we are in this health crisis which has resulted in a lockdown for the people?

Throughout the world, people are more anxious because of Covid. There has been an increase in cases of suicide and mental health is being discussed even in our country.

The world and India have been subjected to a lockdown since March and you can tell that it's taking a toll on everybody mentally.

But the people of Kashmir have been under a severe State-sponsored lockdown for a year.

The Covid lockdown, I would say is kinder to the citizens in the rest of the country than for the Kashmiris.

It's just an excuse for the government to deploy more armed forces and checkpoints to humiliate people.

Mentally, it has left us very distraught. The anxiety is exacerbated by the fact that financially their backs have been completely broken.

So for Kashmiris, it's a double tragedy.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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