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    J&K’s special status has to be restored one day, says optimistic Mehbooba Mufti


    SRINAGAR: Unfazed by the setbacks her party received since the day BJP withdrew its support to her government in June 2018, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti sounds confident and optimistic about restoration of erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370.

    During an informal chat with a select group of journalists at her Fairview residence on the heels on Zabarwan Hills here, the firebrand politician, who is struggling to fix her party from further cracks, said she was all hopeful that the special status of Jammu and Kashmir would be restored ‘one day’.

    Donning a green velvet gown, Mehbooba looked all calm and composed to carry forward with her resolve to get back statehood and the Article 370, abrogated on August 5 2019.

    Asked whether August 5 constitutional changes can be reversed as there seems a broad political consensus across the country on what was done to J&K, the PDP chief said,” Nothing is irreversible or set in stone in politics.”

    Quoting an example she said, “When Mufti sahib was Home Minister during V P Singh government (1989-1990), he sent a message to a senior separatist leader, who was in jail that time, to come on the negotiation table. Mufti sahib promised that anything less than ‘azadi’ sky was the limit for Kashmiris on the negotiation table. But unfortunately, they (separatists) didn’t agree. Nobody could have imagined then that August 5 like situation would happen.”

    “Similarly, something which has been taken away unconstitutionally will have to be returned through constitutional means. We will fight tooth and nail for the restoration of J&K’s special status through peaceful and democratic means.  It may take time and a lot of hard work but it will happen,” optimistic Mehbooba said.

    Grilled by the journalists for PDP’s alliance with the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in 2015, she didn’t mind making some candid confessions on the issue albeit with a caveat that her father and PDP founder was not wrong for going for the alliance with the right wing party.

    “Mufti sahab had joined hands with BJP only to cage a jinn in a bottle so that Article 370 won’t be touched,” she added.

    On her party’s alliance with the arch rival National Conference to form People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), the former CM said that the alliance didn’t fight recent district development council (DDC) polls to demand autonomy. “Our aim was to deny BJP and its stooges any democratic space to further disempower our people,” she said.

    The PDP chief alleged that the BJP was using the police and the administration to pressurize the newly elected DDC members to shift loyalty. “Despite PAGD having a majority in most of the districts, the BJP is trying every trick in its sleeve to stop the alliance from having its chairmen,” she claimed.

    The former chief minister also accused the saffron party of using central agencies like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to “settle scores.” *(Deccan Herald)*

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