Srinagar: Disallowing PDP to have its first political meeting of leaders on Thursday has shown that the “ground feedback” about Mehbooba Mufti and her party is still “disturbing”. “BJP has been even violating the SOPs due to the pandemic in Kashmir valley, holding big conventions and leaders coming from New Delhi. But main political parties have no space here,” said Ghulam Nabi Lone, general secretary of PDP.
BJP is the only political party working freely on the ground, especially at the grassroots in Kashmir valley, since 5 August last year when all the mainstream political parties were banned from any activity especially in the valley. Recently, the government disallowed a closed-door political meeting of senior leaders of PDP in Srinagar, bringing the debate back in focus that BJP is doing cherry-picking while allowing mainstream political parties to conduct their meetings.
In the past 13 months, even amidst the pandemic, the BJP freely conducted political meetings even in the rural areas of Kashmir, sending a sense of alarm among the traditional political parties like National Conference (NC), PDP and Congress that they were “pouching on their political space”.
A few days ago, the government allowed the National Conference to conduct its first political affairs committee meeting, giving hopes to other parties like PDP and PC led by Sajad Gani Lone that they can conduct similar meetings in the near future. While PDP president Mehbooba Mufti is still under detention, her daughter on twitter claimed that their party was being discriminated against. In a series of tweets, she said that PDP was being targeted by the J&K administration and said, “Why are these people being detained unlawfully. Under what law is their detention justified?”
Several media reports from Delhi suggested that PDP was being kept under curbs mainly because the government has feedback that Mehbooba Mufti can galvanise support in restive South Kashmir and create fresh unrest. Amid such reports, the feedback to the government about Sajad Gani Lone and his party People’s Conference is on similar lines.
Both Sajad Gani Lone and Mehbooba Mufti have the previous poll baggage of being close to separatists and also having some understanding with Jamaat-i-Islami and Hurriyat. Government circles believe that Mehbooba Mufti still has some understanding with Jamaat-i-Islami in South Kashmir, while Sajad Gani Lone has his brother Bilal Lone still in the Mirwaiz-led Hurriyat and the government fears a “dangerous cocktail” if such forces are allowed to mingle on the ground.
Since 22 August, the NC has held two meetings on 29 August and 2 September at its office in Srinagar. The Congress, too, has held meetings in Srinagar and Anantnag. The PC led by Sajad Lone is waiting in the wings to conduct political meeting post abrogation of Article 370.
It is in place to mention that Mehbooba Mufti, by her continued detention, is emerging as a main face of resistance for restoration of Article 370, as her party has started approaching its ground workers in the past few weeks.
While the government released both Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah in March this year and allowed them in the recent past to hold meetings, PDP is not getting such treatment.