SRINAGAR: Opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday said the reports suggesting that former officer of police’s Special Operations Group, Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, had joined her party were “rumours”.
Mehbooba told a press conference in Kishtwar district that Bukhari “is not in our party,” two days after the latter threatened to teach Kashmir Reader editor Showkat A Motta a “lesson”.
“These are all rumours,” Mehbooba told reporters.
The PDP had mailed a statement to the media outlets in the state on Wednesday mentioning that Bukhari was among several “senior leaders” who addressed an election meeting in Kupwara. Party patron Mufti Muhammad Sayeed was the key speaker at the meeting.
A PDP leader who spoke on the condition of anonymity had told Kashmir Reader that Bukhari had joined the party soon after his retirement in February and campaigned vigorously for its candidate for the parliamentary elections.
A pro-active police officer in the dreaded SOG, from which PDP has always sought to dissociate itself, Bukhari reportedly had claimed killing 300 militants during his stint as SSP of Anantnag and Budgam districts. He also labeled all stone-pelters as drug addicts and victims of “bad parenting” after he was brought to contain the 2010 anti-India agitation in Srinagar. A photograph in the local media had shown him dragging a woman during a protest against water shortage.
With such a track record, the PDP apparently wanted to keep its association with him (he was made Anantnag police chief during PDP rule) a low-key affair. Both PDP chief spokesman Naeem Akhtar and media adviser Nayeema Mehjoor had told Kashmir Reader they were not aware about his affiliation with the party when told he had addressed a rally and had been referred to as a “senior leader”.
However, the PDP statement declaring him a “senior leader” handed ammunition to the opposition National Conference which called the party as a “safe haven for killers”. The SOG is accused of some of the worst human rights abuses in the past 20 years.
Reacting to NC’s tirade, Mehbooba told the reporters at Kishtwar on Sunday that Omar Abdullah was raking up Bukhari’s issue to malign the image of her party.
“Where was he (Omar) since 2010,” she said.
Ashiq Bukhari ‘biggest villain’ in Kashmir: DAK
Calling Ashiq Bukhari as the “biggest villain in Kashmir”, the Doctors Association Kashmir on Sunday condemned the intimidation and threats issued by him to Kashmir Reader Editor.
In a statement, president DAK Dr Nissar ul Hassan said, “This act of hooliganism is shameful and unacceptable and should be condemned by one and all. The harassment of newspaper Editor by ex-police cop for expressing his views is intolerable and highly deplorable.”
He said, “Ashiq Bukhari was rightly reported as notorious for his proactive role in counterinsurgency operation. He is undoubtedly the biggest villain in Kashmir because of his barbaric and brutal acts.”
Dr Nisar said, “This reprehensible act of threatening is against freedom of published expression. Curbing of press independence is against the spirit of liberal democracy. Freedom of opinion and dissent is a fundamental right and cannot be criminalized. Press of Kashmir represents pain and sufferings of people and one has an obligation to safeguard its pillars.”