Expressing shock at the punitive action against some Kashmiri students for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in a cricket match, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti wrote to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday and sought his intervention so that their future is not destroyed.
She noted that such punitive actions will only further the sense of mistrust and alienation between the younger generation in Kashmir and India, and added: “patriotism and a sense of loyalty have to be cultivated with compassion”.
Her letter to Modi came after medical students living in hostels of the Government Medical College Srinagar and the SKIMS Hospital in Srinagar were booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and three students from Kashmir studying in Agra were arrested for alleged provocative slogans and social media posts celebrating Pakistan’s victory over India in the T20 World Cup match played in Dubai on October 24.
“I write to you with a deep sense of disappointment and concern about the alarming situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Not too long ago when you presided over an all-party meeting in Delhi you expressed your intention to remove ‘Dil ki doori’ between Delhi and J&K. In my capacity as the President of PDP, I suggested a few confidence-building measures that would have provided a sense of relief and breathing space to the people of J&K,” Mehbooba wrote.
“We had been waiting for the roll-out of a policy to address the hearts and minds of people, especially youth,” she said.
The PDP president said there were also expectations that Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent visit to J&K would have led to a meaningful reach-out, especially after his statement about engaging with the youth here.
“Instead, what followed was shocking and worrying. A friendly cricket match between India and Pakistan that was solely a source of entertainment for people here…led to booking (of) youngsters under the draconian UAPA for simply choosing to cheer the winning side,” she said.
Mehbooba said the brightest young people pursuing professional courses like MBBS have been targeted and slapped with anti-terror laws.
“…three students in Agra too have been arrested and charged with sedition for the same reasons. This, despite the college’s own admission that they didn’t engage in any activity that might be construed as anti-national,” she said.
The former chief minister said patriotism and a sense of loyalty have to be cultivated with compassion and cannot be “forced by wielding the baton or by the barrel of a gun”.
“Such punitive actions laced with contempt will only further the sense of mistrust and alienation between the younger generation and rest of the country… Wisdom deems it prudent for this government to engage with them, understand their aspirations and goals. I fervently request you to intervene so that the future of these young bright minds is not destroyed,” she wrote to Modi.
Mehbooba said political parties and their fortunes will wax and wane over the course of time, but what matters the most is the future generation that will have to carry the burdens of the past yet strive to fulfill the expectations of a better tomorrow.
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Anantnag, Mehbooba said she has written to the prime minister that he needs to win the hearts of the people of Kashmir.
“The states and the country do not run on the force. This way, the future of our youngsters will be destroyed and the youth will be further alienated and will cause problems for J-K and the country,” she said.
The PDP president said, “You need sympathy and love so that you win the hearts of the people here and they identify with India rather than with Pakistan.” “I want to tell the people of the country because we have got tired of telling the government, that you cannot make someone love the nation by force. Sport is a sport and arresting students and youth because of it will not make the situation better, but rather make it worse.
“You cannot force anyone to like a particular player. India is a huge democratic country. This democracy and the Constitution have given us the right to like any player,” she added.
Mehbooba also said her party workers tried to take out a protest march in Srinagar against “these excesses” and arrests, “but unfortunately they were not allowed to come out…What democracy is this?”