New Delhi: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that Article 370 is a bridge of faith between the State and rest of the country. She said it is also a historic commitment of the people of the country made to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
“The Muslim majority State voluntarily acceded to an egalitarian society of the country. There is misconception among certain sections in the country about the special position of the State,” she said.
The Chief Minister said that dialogue is the only way forward to resolve the Kashmir issue and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has a “huge mandate”, can create history by changing the narrative on Jammu and Kashmir.
Speaking at an event organized by the Indian Express, Mehbooba Mufti said autonomy is an idea within the Constitution of India.
When asked about the demand for Right to self determination, she said that we need to replace the idea of ‘Azadi with a better idea’.
“What after (even if we chose to be) separate? We need to have a plan of action, need self-respect, then a bright future,” Mufti said.
Talking about the National Conference’s autonomy demand or PDP’s self-rule, she stated that there is a misconception.
“There is a misconception that Autonomy or Self-rule is anti-national… It’s all in the Agenda for Alliance,” she said.
The Chief Minister said the situation in the State has improved considerably since last year and sectors like tourism and trade have started to pick up pace. She said she has directed the security establishments to prefer the return back of local militants to the social mainstream to their killing.
Terming the role of a section of national media as very critical in the context of the State, Mufti said media needs to build a positive and reconciliatory narrative on the State.
“A section of media is not helping in reconciliation. If such media was there in 90s, then J&K would not have been with us. Many news channels are not helping in reconciliation but adding to the problem,” she said.
On the appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as the interlocutor for dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir, Mufti said for the first time such an engagement by the Centre has properly been formalised at the highest level.
She hoped that with an illustrious and unblemished track record at his back, Dineshwar Sharma would be able to steer ahead the process to a substantive conclusion. She also underlined the need for supporting this process by all agencies and not do anything which would disturb the ambience of the dialogue process.
“It is all the more important to include all those people in the dialogue process whose ideas about the State are different from ours”, she added. Similarly, she said, both India and Pakistan have to learn to live like good neighbours and resolve all differences through peaceful engagement and reconciliation.
Replying to a question on rising incidents of intolerance and other hate crimes in the country, Mehbooba Mufti said the common citizens are as tolerant and accommodative as they used to be before.
“The DNA of this country would not change. That is why we chose to be with India which is as liberal as any other society in the world”, she said adding incidents of hate crimes bring disrepute to this tolerant ethos of the country.
Mufti was also asked about PDP’s coalition partner BJP. She reminisced her father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s commitment to the BJP, saying she didn’t want to let him down.
“I worked hard for my father because he had a vision beyond Jammu and Kashmir. He believed in the idea of India. He also had a commitment with BJP. So I didn’t want to let him down. I didn’t want to make a U-turn”.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership in the scheme of things, Mufti said it’s an asset and that he’s a very down-to-earth person. “I found him very open, down-to-earth. I find it easy to talk to him. He has been considerate and reassuring.”