The PDP says it may take to streets to secure party chief Mehbooba Mufti’s release – who has been in detention under the Public Safety Act since August last year – if all other means do not yield results. In an interview to HT’s Mir Ehsan, Youth PDP president Waheed ur Rehman Parra conceded that the party definitely took a hit by the desertions, but asserted that it will bounce back with its core philosophy. Reflecting on the new Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, the leader said he is “making efforts”. The PDP recently resumed political activity after they were allowed to hold two big meetings in Srinagar.
Q. The PDP organised its first meeting after August 5 last year, what was discussed in the meeting?
It was much more than a meeting. It was an attempt to free oneself from unofficial house arrest. We discussed August 5, 2019, and the post-scenario, insecurities and challenges confronting people. We strongly reject unconstitutional, undemocratic treatment meted out to Kashmir.
Q. Are all the PDP leaders free?
Yes, except Party President Mehbooba Mufti.
Q. Do you think, government is trying to stop the PDP from resuming its activities?
This sense of unfreedom, absence of democracy and absence of politics is self-created by the BJP. Not just the PDP, the entire Kashmir is being treated similarly. The only difference is that the PDP continues to be on their target and they continue to attack it by using tactics for limiting our space. They want a BJP narrative here and help them gain ground at the cost of local parties, especially the PDP. At a time when we as a population desperately need 4G communication for education and healthcare sectors, the BJP is busy politicising 4G for the sake of their personal agendas of letting no dissenting voices escape this space. Is this what integration looks like? Rest of India studies and heals but Kashmiris are deprived everyday for every little opportunity.
Q. After August 5, many leaders, especially former ministers and legislators, left the PDP, do you think it has weakened the party?
Yes, many have left, such exits disclose a pattern which reveals that this episode was engineered by the politically macho to thwart PDP efforts and subvert its strength. Those who have exited, have been responsible for eroding party space by all means and when nothing worked finally created factions. The party is definitely affected but it will bounce back with its core philosophy, not by losing individuals.
Q. Why is PDP president Mehbooba Mufti still under detention while all other leaders released?
Mehbooba Mufti cannot be threatened or coerced into serfdom. They treat her stance and voice as a challenge to their politics. The attempt to install puppets is not what democracy is. The BJP should be ready to accept real political challenges. Just to exercise their own power they are keeping her silenced using extreme laws. If one wants to really see what Kashmiri politics will look like, they can’t understand even the mood of the people until she’s free and hits the ground. It is difficult to control Mehbooba Mufti and BJP knows it very well. They failed to control her while in alliance and that must be their concern and fear.
Q. Is the PDP trying to launch an agitation to press the government to release the party president?
Yes, we have approached the Supreme Court. If it doesn’t work, we will raise our voice democratically. And if need arises, we will be forced to hit streets to seek her release.
Q. Do you have hope from the new Lt Governor?
He is definitely making efforts at his level but it is too small an institution to address our anxiety, anger or our problems. People want the PM to respond to Kashmir and his silence is definitely not acceptable here. This is a negative and controlled peace.
Q. Being a youth leader what is the feeling of youth in J&K and what should New Delhi do?
There is a huge sense of resentment among young people, but they are scared and suffocated. Silence in itself is a statement.It is the level of disappointment among youngsters towards Delhi. The Centre should come out of denial and address the issues, talk politically, initiate dialogue with all stakeholders.
Q. Is it true security and government accommodation of many PDP leaders have been withdrawn?
All of our leaders are out of government accommodation and without security cover. One or two PSOs have been assigned to protect a few leaders but that is negligible cover. Given the present circumstances or as per SOP followed earlier. Security is not a privilege here but a survival of means to ensure democratic space. It is for the first time, we see the state using security as a tool to undermine us and empower a select group of people at the cost of our life.