People's Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti on Monday asserted that she will hold the tricolour and the flag of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir together, saying as an MLA she had reaffirmed her faith in the J-K Constitution and the sovereignty and integrity of India as both are inseparable.
The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister had last month said that she was not interested in contesting elections or holding the national flag till the constitutional changes enforced on August 5 last year were rolled back, sparking protests in Jammu.
"We are the people, especially in the Kashmir Valley, who upheld the tricolour high over the years at the cost of thousands of our workers who were martyred," Mufti told reporters in Jammu at the end of her five-day visit to Jammu -- her first after release from over one-year-long detention under the Pubic Safety Act (PSA).
Launching a scathing attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party, besides the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) without naming it, she said, "Those moving with half-pants and where their leader sits do not hoist the tricolour (at their headquarters) and they are giving us lessons on the national flag."
She said her father Mufti Mohammad Saeed picked up the national flag when they were being dismissed as 'insects of filthy drain' and subjected to social boycott.
"We, including the BJP members, have taken an oath (in the assembly and council) that we will affirm our faith in the Constitution of J-K and will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India. First, it was the J-K Constitution and then the sovereignty and integrity of the country. How is it, they cut one finger and leave the other, it is not right," she said.
Asked whether she will hold the tricolour, Mufti said, "I had already replied that I have taken an oath of the J-K Constitution when I became the MLA for the first time and I affirm my faith to the Constitution of J-K and uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India -- both of which are interlinked. J-K flag and Indian flag, I will hold both these flags together."
She accused the BJP of 'breaking the relations' of Jammu and Kashmir with the country by its last year's decision of abrogating the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and bifurcating it into union territories.
"I am saying give us our flag and the Constitution back, the merchandise you have looted in the daylight after conspiring under the darkness of the night have to be returned with interest," the PDP president said.
She said the people in Nagaland had recently said they do not accept the flag of this country and the Constitution, why these 'half-pants' did not take out protest marches against them.
"When I said we will raise both the flags, they came out with protests and burnt my effigies but when the people in Nagaland are saying, there is no murmur and discussion on the television," Mufti said.
Mufti also asserted that a dialogue with Pakistan and the stakeholders within J-K and opening of cross-border roads to bring the divided parts together can bring peace and everlasting solution to the problem.
Mehbooba Mufti made the assertion while advising the BJP to take a leaf out of former Prime Minister A B VAjpayee's book.
The former chief minister warned that militancy is on the rise in the Valley with more youths preferring 'militancy over going to jail' after 'no middle path was left and voices of dissent silenced through the muzzle of power'.
"Attempts are being made to vitiate the atmosphere by politics of hatred and division. The people like us are facing problems to live in Kashmir due to an increase in militancy under their (BJP) rule.
"They were saying militancy has finished but the reality is that at least 10 to 15 youth are joining militancy from each village," Mehbooba told reporters here at the end of her five-day visit to Jammu.
It was her first visit to Jammu after release from 14 months of detention under the Pubic Safety Act (PSA) following the abrogation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir last year.
She said the militancy is on the rise because 'you (BJP) have silenced all the voices and not left the middle path for the people. The youth is thinking of two options -- whether to go to jail or pick up the gun -- and he chooses later to get killed rather than going to the jail'.
Mehbooba said the situation on the borders is of concern to the people as local residents are living under the constant threat to their lives due to the continued cross-border shelling.
Asked how it is possible when there is no let-up in Pakistani shelling and mounting civilian casualties, she said, "We have to pick up a leaf from former Prime Minister A B Vajpayee's book."
"Despite the Kargil war and Parliament attack, he entered into a friendship with Pakistan as a result of which the militancy had come down and the border firing also had stopped," she said.
"We have to take a leaf out of that book and start a dialogue with them (Pakistan) and with the stakeholders in J&K. When we can hold eight rounds of talks with China which martyred our 20 soldiers and we did not even raise our finger," she asserted.
"We are talking to them to seek one inch of our land, though they have occupied 100 square km of our land. Why this double standard? They should remember Vajpayee who is also their mentor and act upon his policy book," Mehbooba said.
She said 'both sides of Jammu and Kashmir are ours. We have to open the roads to bring the two parts of J&K together and look for an everlasting solution to the J-K problem so that peace returns to the region and China, which is showing aggression, stops'.
Mehbooba said she wanted J-K to become a bridge of 'peace and friendship' between India and its neighbours.
"The border residents are facing problems every day due to cross-border firing and are unable to work in their land."
The PDP leader said her father Mufti Mohammad Saeed had a vision of opening cross-border roads between the two parts of J-K like Suchet Garh-Sialkot, Srinagar-Kargil-Skardu, Nowshera-Mirpur and Kotli and the solution to the problem lies in the dialogue.
Attacking the policies of the BJP, Mufti asserted that 'the party will meet the same fate as the outgoing US president Donald Trump'.
Days after the Bihar assembly exit polls predicted an edge for the Mahagathbandhan led by Rashtriya Janata Dal's Tejashwi Yadav, the PDP chief said, "I want to congratulate Tejashwi who is a young man and has set a narrative with a focus on Roti, Kapda Aur Makan (bread, clothes and house)."
Soon after congratulating Yadav, she added, "The BJP raked up the abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A and opening of J&K for the people across the country but it did not work for them as people are more concerned about their meals."
The former J-K chief minister also referred to the Centre's new farm laws and land laws in Jammu and Kashmir and said, "The BJP failed to provide two square meals to the people, leave aside the creation of promised two crore jobs every year."
"The party instead tried to sell the abrogation of Article 370 to the voters in the country," she added.
Accusing the BJP of misleading people and diverting their attention from real issues by playing the politics of 'communal hatred', she said, "When oppression increases, it soon vanishes too."
"Today is their (BJP's) time and tomorrow, our time will come. The same thing will happen to them (BJP) what happened to Trump (who lost the US presidential election last week)," she said.
Accusing the BJP of being the 'most corrupt' party in the country, she said it would sell all the resources of the country before it goes out of the power.
"They are accusing us of corruption. I think they have beaten all previous records of corruption. They were not having any foothold but look at the huge office buildings of the party today. Where has the money come from and how have their accounts swelled in the name of party fund?" she asked.
Mehbooba expressed displeasure over some media houses allegedly propagating the BJP's agenda instead of the Constitutional provisions and said it was heartening that Trump's speech was blocked midway despite being the most powerful president in the US.
"Some (news) channels, I don't want to name them, are running BJP's agenda and not following the Constitution. This country will be run by the Constitution which binds the people together," she said.
"If the BJP agenda is adopted, the same situation will emerge as is being witnessed over the past six years," she said accusing the BJP of engineering Hindu versus Muslims, Muslims versus Muslims and Jammu-versus Kashmir and Dogra verses Kashmiri.
"It (BJP) does not have anything else to give to the people of the country. And therefore, they are dividing the people in the name of religion, regions and castes," she said.