Bijbehara: Claiming that her “toffee and milk” remarks, made during the 2016 uprising, were expressions of a “mother’s rage”, former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti neverthesless apologised for the remarks, here on Monday.
She also maintained that her recent visits to militants’ families were made following invitations from the families, and were not for electoral gains.
A visibly flustered Mehbooba addressed a dismal gathering at her father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s grave here in Bijbehara on his third death anniversary.
“I am telling you things today because I am on the verge of a breakdown,” Mehbooba told her workers, as her voice cracked.
She talked at length about how her father was not after power and how he wanted to take Kashmir out of the present quagmire, before she talked about the post-Burhan Wani uprising.
Mehbooba implied that the 2016 uprising was orchestrated by people with vested interests. She cited past examples of the 2010 and 2009 uprisings, which, she said, had genuine “reasons”.
“What had I done in 2016? Are commanders not killed today? Then what was different about 2016?” she asked, and said she was deeply pained by the killing of young boys.
The same boys, she said, used to participate in her rallies.
“Being a mother, was I not supposed to feel the pain? As mothers slap and curse their children when they go near a fire, I too wanted to send across a message to these kids who were being mercilessly led to army camps and police stations to get killed,” Mehbooba said.
At the peak of the 2016 uprising, Mehbooba in a joint presser with Home Minister Rajnath Singh had shot back at a reporter who questioned the killing of kids by government forces.
“Had they gone to buy toffee and milk at the army camps?” Mehbooba had retorted to the question.
Justifying her remark, Mehbooba today called the outburst a “mother’s rage.”
“I too have kids and it was painful for me to see young boys being led to death by people with vested interests,” she said, “Having said that, if anyone has been hurt by that remark of mine, I apologise.”
The former chief minister has been pushed to a corner in recent days with many of her senior party leaders abandoning the party her visits to families of militants being decried as drama and crocodile tears.
She addressed both the issues in her speech today. She called the people leaving her party “power hungry” and said they were the same people who had conspired against her after her father’s death.
“While I was negotiating the terms of government formation with the BJP, some members of my own party went to Nagpur and offered unconditional support,” she said, adding that she was left with no choice after that than to form the government.
Had she not done so, she said, these power-hungry people would have sold Kashmir and her party would have been torn apart.
“Then people would have questioned me for going against the decision of my late father,” she told the gathering.
Mehbooba, on her visits to families of militants, was not only criticised by the opposition but also by Hizb-ul-Mujahideen chief Riyaz Naikoo, who in an audio message asked militants’ families to “throw Mehbooba out of their homes.”
“I did not go to the families myself. I was invited,” Mehbooba said today. “A militant’s sister was arrested in Jammu and was harassed and the family had come to me for help,” she said.
“I had offered to call the DGP on their behalf but they insisted that I visit their home,” Mehbooba added.
The PDP president was later questioned by media persons on her U-turn on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP, after the end of the PDP-BJP alliance in Kashmir.
Mehbooba answered by saying that Modi had wasted his mandate, “across the country in general and in Kashmir in particular.”
“He had avowed to take the footsteps of Vajpayee vis-à-vis Kashmir and relations with Pakistan. Unfortunately, he wasted the huge mandate he was bestowed upon with by the people,” she said.
Mehbooba was accompanied by her brother and former minister Tasadduq Mufti to the grave of their father. Tasadduq, however, chose to keep a low profile.
Other party members present on the occasion were Rehman Veeri, Sartaj Madni, Khalil Bandh, Naeem Akhtar, Aijaz Mir, Zahoor Mir, Raheem Rather and others.