Buoyed by poll victory, Mehbooba takes on pro-freedom leaders

SHABIR AHMAD
ANANTNAG: Opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti, who was recently elected to Indian Parliament from Anantnag constituency, on Tuesday said that those calling for boycott have no right to harass or intimidate votaries of election process.
“They have their own ideology and we have our own. They talk of boycott and we talk of vote. In a democratic setup they have every right to propagate their ideology, but they cannot harass or intimidate the voters by using guns.
“They cannot cut the nails of the voters, beat the elderly people or remove burqa of the women as happened at certain places after elections,” Mehbooba told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
Earlier, she accused the ruling National Conference of using youth for enforcing election boycott in the Valley. “National Conference exploited the youth particularly in Pulwama district and used them for enforcing boycott and attacking polling stations. They had told them that police will not touch them, but now when police is arresting the same youth and NC leaders are silent. Its workers are now taking hefty amounts from the parents of the arrested youth for their release,” Mehbooba claimed.
She said that her party “will not allow the exploitation of youth for political interests.”
Hoping that PDP will get majority in the Assembly elections scheduled later this year, Mehbooba said, “The way people of Jammu and Kashmir have voted for change we are hopeful that we will win majority of the seats in Assembly elections. People of the state have reposed trust in us. We particularly thank people of Srinagar for their support. Our victory is the victory of people of entire state. People have lot of expectations from us and we will try to meet their expectations in the Parliament.”
She, however, said that victory and defeat are part of politics. “We lost in 2009 and NC lost today. In politics one has to win and others have to lose. I don’t believe that a political party which loses is finished forever. But the question is which party performs well.”
Asked about change of guard in New Delhi, Mehbooba said, “When Atal Ji was the Prime Minister he had taken an initiative for the resolution of Kashmir issue. He had started a dialogue process with Pakistan. Since Narendra Modi in Jammu repeatedly said that he will follow Vajpayee’s Kashmir policy, we hope that he will extend the hand of friendship to Pakistan and restart the halted dialogue process,” Mehbooba said.