‘New Delhi has handed over J&K to a Twitter kid’

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PDP vice-president Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari tells Baba Umar that people in Sopore didn’t pelt stones at them, but at the police

PDP vice-president, Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari
PDP vice-president, Moulvi Iftikhar Ansari

The government stopped People’s Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti from visiting the family of Nazim Rashid, who died in police custody. How do you feel about it?
The Sopore incident is a cold-blooded murder of a youth who was arrested and eight hours later, his body was handed over to his parents. When PDP leaders tried to reach out to the people, the government alleged that we are playing politics over the killing. The people are angry with the government. But Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah are claiming that things are under control. The chief minister is a total failure.

Rashid’s parents didn’t let senior PDP leaders, including you, to meet them. People pelted stones at your cavalcade. Has the PDP been rejected by the people?
The government is lying by saying that PDP leaders were attacked. People didn’t pelt stones at us. The police were the target. We actually met the victim’s family members who told us that the government has done injustice to them. They didn’t like the police, especially the Deputy Superintendent of Police, escorting PDP vehicles. The people of Sopore wanted us to come without the police.

The government says that the PDP is trying to whip up passions and undermine peace.
The father-son duo (Farooq Abdullah-Omar Abdullah) keep on telling Delhi that it’s only the National Conference (NC) that is striving and fighting to keep Kashmir peaceful. But when the PDP tries to defuse tension and meet people, the chief minister doesn’t allow it. Shall we sit in homes and allow him and his police to do whatever they want?

But the PDP hasn’t visited the houses of those who were shot by unidentified gunmen.
We have gone there too. Mehbooba Mufti has visited all families whose members were killed by the army, police, unidentified gunmen and militants.

The government didn’t allow BJP leaders to visit the Valley, saying their visit could vitiate peace. It voices the same reason for the PDP. How do you see this?
When injustices are meted out to farmers and Dalits, Congress stalwarts such as Rahul Gandhi and Digvijaya Singh visit them. When their visits don’t hurt peace, how come Omar feels that our meeting victims’ families will undermine peace? This is nonsense.

The PDP keeps harping that the NC should remove the J&K Disturbed Areas Act and AFSPA. Why wasn’t the PDP able to do so when it was in power?
The PDP made attempts to bring peace in Kashmir. We disbanded the Special Operations Group but the NC revived it. To a larger extent, the police was held accountable. But Omar Abdullah has no time for these things. Delhi has handed over power to a kid who is busy only on Twitter.

The PDP says ordering probes has become a ritual for Omar. What happened to the probes ordered during the PDP’s rule?
After the custodial death of Manzoor Ahmad, Omar had ordered for a probe. But the criminal got a promotion instead of punishment. The NC can ask the Congress about how serious the PDP was in maintaining accountability.

Whenever the situation turns bad in Kashmir, the PDP targets the NC but not its ally, the Congress. Why?
When the PDP-Congress combine was in power, people used to criticise the then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Syed when things went bad. Likewise, Omar Abdullah is heading the government with Congress as its ally, so it’s justified to target him if the government fails to deliver.

Baba Umar is a Correspondent with Tehelka.
babaumar@tehelka.com

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