PDP President and former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s interview with Rajat Sharma in recent episode of ‘Aap Ki Aadalat’ on India TV.
Q: The first allegation against you is that you compromised with the security of the country. The BJP leaders with whom you were running a collation government say the Ramadhan ceasefire was announced on your insistence and it was a big mistake. It gave militants a chance to regroup and demoralised the police and security forces.
I believe in the last three years if any good step was taken it was Ramadhan ceasefire. It gave people a lot of relief and common people started living a normal life. When Union Home Minister visited Kashmir during ceasefire, there was no strike call for the first time. The Home Minister himself observed the change.
We had not called the ceasefire for militants but for common people. During Vajpayee government in 2000, a similar unilateral ceasefire was announced. But that time the state government had opposed it. This time, I tried my best for a ceasefire so that there is some respite to people.
Q: I have some statistics. During the ceasefire, there were 62 militant attacks and 32 grenade attacks and at 23 places firing was reported.
As I said the ceasefire was not called for militants but for common people. Militants don’t want normalcy. They don’t want schools and colleges to reopen. They wanted to sabotage it and I am sorry to say what militants wanted, they achieved and what we wanted we couldn’t.
Q: But this (ceasefire) boosted militants and demoralised the police and army and you wanted to continue the ceasefire?
Our police and army is not so weak that a ceasefire can demoralise them. They are fighting for the last 30-years. The solution to the problems of J&K is not to kill militants. If killing militants would have been a solution, why would have a leader like Vajpayee ji called for a ceasefire and went to Lahore with bus. From 2002 to 2005 when Mufti (Mohamamd Sayeed) sahib was Chief Minister and Vajpayee ji was Prime Minister, the situation was changing and people in Kashmir remember it as a golden period. If the solution to J&K’s problem is killing militants, then what is the need for having democratic government? Army is there and they can do it.
Q: PM Narendra Modi said from Red Fort that “not bullets, but hugs” can solve the problem.
There was a forward movement during Vajpayee ji’s tenure. Vajpayee ji visited Kashmir in 2003 and thousands of people welcomed him in Srinagar. What Vajpayee ji spoke that day had an impact on overall situation. When Mufti sahib decided to enter into an alliance with the BJP (in 2015), he tried to recreate that moment. He shake hands with Modiji with the same intention and when Modiji visited Srinagar in (November) 2015, we had expectations that he will recreate what Vajpayee ji did.
Q: But Modiji said he will follow Vajpayeeji’s ‘Kashmiryat, Jamhoriat and Insaniyat.’
No he mostly spoke about roads and 80 thousand crore package. Our people were let down with Modiji’s speech.
Q: Do you want to say India should speak to Pakistan? Do you say that Pakistan is responsible for the bloodshed in Kashmir?
I am saying that the animosity between India and Pakistan is responsible for the prevailing situation in Kashmir. We have to bear the brunt of Indo-Pak animosity. Pakistan has a role. Vajpayee ji went to Lahore with a bus. He continued to talk with Pakistan despite Kargil war and attack on Parliament. Can there be any bigger nationalist than Vajpayeeji
Q: But Modiji too made an attempt when he invited Nawaz Sharief to his swearing in ceremony. Then he went to Lahore to attend a marriage function in Nawaz Sharief’s family?
I am not saying he didn’t make any attempt, but there was no consistency.
Q: As they say ‘Latoon ke bhoot baton se nahi mante’ (Stubborn people don’t listen to you till they have a very good thrashing.)
You have fought several wars with Pakistan and won those. Did the situation in Kashmir improve because of that? If ever situation in Kashmir improved, it was when Vajpayeeji went to Lahore and Musharaf assured him that Pakistan will not allow its land to be used for any anti-India activity. You carried surgical strikes, did it improve anything?
Q: Now there is no Vajpayeeji and there is Modiji who is his own way of working. He says he has 56 inch chest.
From that 56 inch chest he has to spare one inch for the people of J&K. Idea of India is incomplete without idea of Kashmir, do you agree with it.
Q: Modiji went one step ahead when he said Kashmir won’t be complete till we retrieve Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
You can say anything. Did surgical strikes have any impact? Did it stop the attacks or killings? No. In today’s world, war is not an option.
Q: Modiji said the way you were working as (Chief Minister) it would have compromised with national security if you would have been given further time?
(Laughs). There is no way out but to talk like Vajpayeeji did. He used to say you can change the friends but not neighbours. You can use force, carry NIA raids, bring more army. But will it change the situation.
Q: There are allegations against you that your government was soft against militants. Whenever army and police gained upper hand against militants, you tied their hands.
An elected government has to think about the safety and security of common people. My instructions to the security forces were to make an attempt to arrest the local militants instead of killing them. When you kill one militant, four others are born. Similarly I had directed them not to harass the families of militants. What is their mistake if their sons or relatives have become militants?
Q: Your government withdrew cases against stone pelters?
We did it to those boys who were involved in stone pelting for the first time.
Q: You withdrew cases against stone pelters, but registered FIRs against policemen?
We live in democratic system where fundamental rights of the people have to be safeguarded. In such a case if any incident happened, we took the action.
Q: Jamiat-e-Islami supported you in elections. And when the Center government gave names of 80 Jamiat people who were involved in anti-state activities you didn’t take any action against them.
Jamiat-e-Islami is an organisation like other organisation in the country. If you have proof you can arrest someone. But if you want to arrest someone because of the Jamiat-e-Islami name, I didn’t allow it. We arrested those people only against whom there were evidence. If Jamiat-e-Islami people supported or voted for PDP, there is no harm in it. Casting vote is a democratic right.
Q: But in return you supported militants. How is it justified?
No it is not true. If any Jamiat-e-Islami boy became a militant security forces took action against him. But as I said, I didn’t allow to harass the families of militants.
Q: Separatists were receiving money from Pakistan and you didn’t allow any action against them?
You can’t arrest someone just because he is the relative of a separatist or a militant. You arrested son of Syed Salah-ud-Din just because his father is a militant commander. Salah-ud-Din is in Pakistan for last 30-years. What is the mistake of his children? NIA recently arrested Asiya Andrabi and took her to Delhi. You can’t arrest Kashmiri women and detain them in Delhi.
Q: But those who are conspiring against India can’t be left alone?
We are there. Either you say you don’t trust us. We took a step and aligned with the BJP for the interests of the country and the J&K. We sacrificed everything including our party.
Q: Then why have you so much of love for Mirwaiz Umar and Geelani sahib and other Hurriyat leaders, who are enemies of the country?
Those whom you call enemies of country held two rounds of talks with LK Advani when he was deputy Prime Minister. The roads and trade routes with Pakistan were opened to showcase Kashmir as window of opportunity.
Q: But from the same routes, money and drugs are coming?
50 quintiles of drugs are coming from Wagah route. Did you close that? I was pursuing that get two full body scanners for Uri and Rawalkote routes for trucks. You didn’t do it.
Q: The routes where from drugs, money and militants are coming, more such routes should be opened?
You will be surprised to know neither a militant has crossed from Uri nor Rawalakot route. They cross the border from other places. NIA wanted to close the trade routes but I didn’t allow to do that. I am of the opinion that Kashmir should be become part of CPEC.
Q: You have problem with hanging of Afzal Guru and killing Burhan Wani and then you say I love this country?
I have so much of love for this country. I am not among those leaders who used to say go and bombard Pakistan, send Hurriyat leaders to jails and it will solve the problem. Today they are saying go and talk with Pakistan.
Q: Are you pointing towards Farooq Abdullah?
Whosoever he is. I am saying by bombarding Pakistan or killing militants won’t solve the problem.
Q : Do you regret your alliance with the BJP?
It was a historical decision by Mufti sahib. He wanted to get Kashmir out of the quagmire. When we entered into an alliance with the BJP someone told Mufti sahib you made a mistake. He replied at the most we may lose next election, but if this alliance can bring Kashmir out of its problems, it won’t be a bad bargain.
Q: But do you now feel BJP betrayed you?
(Laughs). What BJP did is not new to anybody in Kashmir. In 1953 the government of Sheikh (Mohammad Abdullah) sahib was dismissed by his friend Jawhar Lal Nehru. So this is not something new. They may have complaints with me that I was soft on terrorism, didn’t arrest Jamiatees, why I was asking for a dialogue with Pakistan. These are agendas of my party and these were in agenda of alliance. There was nothing hidden.
Q: There are allegations that you promoted favouritism and nepotism when you were CM?
I came to politics in 1996 when nobody was willing to contest elections in Bijbehara constiuency. In 1999 when PDP was formed, one or two people from our family joined us. One of my uncles was among them.
Q: What about your brother whom you made a minister?
I accept it. When Mufti sahib died, I was emotional. Tasaduq was a renowned cinematographer. I felt alone and in a selfish move I asked him to join the party. Mufti sahib’s death was an emotional trauma for me. I feel I did injustice with Tasaduq by making him a minister. He was earning Rs three to four lakh per day. You can hold me responsible me for making him minister. But rest of the relatives were the ones who are founding members of the PDP.
Q: What is the reason that there is a rebellion within the PDP?
Somebody is angry because he didn’t get a ministry or attention. These things are common in any party. But if Delhi is behind this (rebellion), then it is a serious issue. If BJP wants to make a government in J&K by breaking PDP, it will be a huge dent to democratic process in the state.
Q: There are reports you met you friend Sonia Gandhi and are in a process to make a government with the help of Congress party.
It is absolutely wrong. If we had to make a government for the sake of government we would have done it in 2015 when Congress and NC offered unconditional support to the PDP. We had entered into an alliance with the BJP for a bigger cause.