Former Chief Minister of Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti is being repeatedly humiliated and tortured in custody, claims her close relative.
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Iltija Mufti, 33, daughter of former chief minister, said her mother, who is under detention at a guesthouse since Aug. 4, is being treated like a criminal. She was taken into custody, hours ahead of India revoked special status to the region on Aug. 5.
“Kashmir has been under a brutal siege for over two months now. It is an unprecedented curfew where elected representatives, civil society members, and even minor boys have been illegally detained. The government wants to repress people and make sure no Kashmiri voices are heard,” she said.
An alumnus of the U.K.’s Warwick University, who holds masters in international relations, Iltija said New Delhi is imposing a sense of false peace, where only ruling Bharatiya Janata Party members are able to hold meetings and distort truth. She predicted that the government’s facade of normalcy was beginning to crumble.
“It is an imposed sense of fragile peace. Predictably enough only BJP party members have been able to hold meetings and distort the truth. But now the government’s facade of normalcy in Kashmir is beginning to crumble.”
Former chief minister and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president is lodged at a tourism department property at a hillock of Cheshma Shahi in the outskirts of Srinagar city. The property has been declared as a sub-jail. Iltija said the place is too cold and not equipped to deal with Kashmir Valley’s harsh winter.
“I did not understand why my mother was detained and kept such a way. My mother was not a terrorist but the government is treating her like a criminal and keeping her in solitary confinement to break her spirit. Is this the way you treat a former chief minister and two-time member of parliament?” asked Iltija.
Mehbooba is among the many political leaders, including two other former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, who have been under detention.
Iltija, younger daughter of Mehbooba, has graduated in political science from New Delhi’s prestigious Venkateshwara College. Passionate about human rights, interstate relations and conflict resolution, over past two months she has been operating her mother’s twitter account, informing the world about situation in Kashmir. She believes that New Delhi has thrown an iron curtain between Kashmir and the rest of world. “We have begun our descent into a dictatorial regime that wants to play role of a big brother,” she said.
Lines between separatist and mainstream politics blurred
Her grandfather Mufti Mohamamd Sayeed was one of the topmost pro-India politician in the region. Before establishing his own regional political party, the PDP, he had served at top positions in India’s national politics.
He was also appointed home minister of India in 1989 — the only Muslim, who has so far served this position. He served chief minister of Indian-administered Kashmir twice. His daughter, Mehbooba Mufti succeeded him as party leader and as chief minister, after his death in January 2016.
Iljita said people in Kashmir are fuming and are venting their ire through nonviolent protests. She said in current situation, lines between separatists (pro-freedom) and local mainstream (pro-India) leaders have been completely blurred. “Nobody is willing to tolerate the humiliation, heaped upon us by New Delhi,” she said.
“India has intentionally lumped separatists with mainstream leaders. It is a move fraught with dangerous ramifications and is meant to discredit them. They have essentially cut their nose to spite their face. Those Kashmiris who resented India are now feeling vindicated,” she added.
She also said that people in Kashmir did not have access to emergency services, parents are not sending their children to schools out of fear, all business activities have come to halt, traders and businessmen and their families are facing starvation. She added that people are not allowed to heal themselves.
“There is a major humanitarian crisis in Kashmir. People are not getting access to medical facilities. There are people who require regular dialysis or chemotherapy. Pregnant women are not able to reach hospitals for the delivery. We keep hearing heart wrenching stories while the Kashmir remains under brutal siege. But the government is bent upon distorting the truth. Those who dare to speak in support of Kashmiris are dubbed as traitors,” said the daughter of former chief minister.
Praising international media, for drawing world attention towards Kashmir by their reporting, she said the reckless attentions of New Delhi have internationalized the issue of Kashmir like never before.
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