Home Human Rights Iltija Mufti arrested: A voice for Kashmir, a detainee for India

Iltija Mufti arrested: A voice for Kashmir, a detainee for India

Iltija Mufti, the daughter of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party leader and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, has become the latest detainee by Modi's government which continues to silence any voices raised against BJP's agenda for the territory. Iltija had pleaded with the international community to act over the unprecedented clampdown in Kashmir and expressed concerns regarding her safety.

Kashmir

Iltija Mufti, the daughter of Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party leader and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, on Thursday claimed that the authorities have stopped her from leaving her residence at Gupkar Road in Srinagar to visit her grandfather’s grave.

“I wanted to go to the mausoleum of my grandfather in connection with his fourth death anniversary on January 7…I had sent my personal security officer and driver to seek permission from the authorities, but it was denied,” Iltija told news agency IANS.

I feel really scared for my life. I don’t think I am safe any more because I don’t trust this government. The way they have gone after even elected representatives is quite frightening

Notably, National Conference leader Ali Muhammad Sagar and his son were on Wednesday permitted to attend the funeral of Sagar’s father-in-law. Talking to the news agency, Sagar said he had urged the authorities to release him for at least two days. However, his request was not granted.

Iltija Mufti, meanwhile, vowed to move the court if she will be barred by the authorities from moving out of her residence.

Read more: Modi-led government is silencing journalists in occupied Kashmir

She added that she was not even permitted to hold a press conference.

“I was not organising any protest but want to visit the grave of her grandfather. On one hand, the government is telling the media that the situation is good and on the other hand, they are putting such curbs.”

Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai took to Twitter to confirm Iltija Mufti’s detention.

However, no official confirmation has been released regarding the alleged arrest. Until then, we are left to uncover why the administration would execute the arrest of the former Chief Minister’s daughter.

Iltija Mufti – a voice for unheard Kashmiris

This isn’t Iltija’s first row with officials looking to silence voices in Kashmir. Immediately after the abrogation of article 370 and lockdown of Kashmir, she pleaded with the international community to act over an unprecedented clampdown on millions of people in the territory, warning that Kashmiris are being “caged like animals” and treated as “cannon fodder”.

Speaking to the Guardian while under house arrest, Iltija Mufti  said as many as 25 armed security personnel had surrounded her house in the week following annexation. All entrances to the house have been locked, she said, defying a communications ban by the Indian government.

Read more: An American & an Indian Journalist together report the horrors of Kashmir

Mufti said no legal basis had been provided for her detention but she had been told her previous comments to the media, criticising India’s actions in Kashmir, had angered officials. She said she had been denied a lawyer and prevented from seeing visitors.

Her mother was placed under house arrest hours before the Indian government made a dramatic announcement on 5 August that it would withdraw Kashmir’s special status. She is understood to have been taken to a makeshift jail.

“I’ve quite clearly been told: first of all we make sure you don’t get your voice out, and you’re not heard, and if you do, be ready to suffer the consequences,” said Mufti, who managed to speak to the Guardian from her home. “Those consequences will be that you will be detained indefinitely and that I won’t have the right or access to even a lawyer.

During the interview she criticized India’s propaganda aimed at advertising Kashmir’s situation as ‘normal’ saying the unilateral decision has paralysed the state which is now on the verge of an economic, humanitarian and medical crisis.

I feel really scared for my life. I don’t think I am safe any more because I don’t trust this government. The way they have gone after even elected representatives is quite frightening.”

Fear of safety did not deter Iltija from speaking up against Modi’s administration and the atrocities in Kashmir the last five months. The young activist extended Kashmir’s cause to several international forums and news agencies.

In conversation with Gulf News she said, “The government of India wants to smother Kashmiri voices. It has illegally detained everyone from elected representatives, party workers, civil society members and hasn’t even spared minors. In such an oppressive atmosphere, I wasn’t left with any choice but to speak up. I have received veiled threats but I am not the one to get bullied. I am here to tell the truth”

During the interview she criticized India’s propaganda aimed at advertising Kashmir’s situation as ‘normal’ saying the unilateral decision has paralysed the state which is now on the verge of an economic, humanitarian and medical crisis.

“We have a government intoxicated with absolute power that feels it has carte blanche to commit constitutional hara-kiri. This feels like Godse and not Gandhi’s idea of India driven by hatred, bigotry and selective persecution” said Iltija portraying her dismay with Modi’s government.

In October, Iltija told BBC Hardtalk’s Stephen Sachkur that Kashmiris are now gravitating towards Pakistan’s leader Imran Khan and the real reason for revocation of Article 370 is that Delhi “wants to engineer democratic changes” in the only Muslim majority state in India.

Earlier in December, quoting a news report on Twitter about an extension of Farooq Abdullah’s detention, Mufti said that the Narendra Modi government is not planning to release three former chief ministers of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state – Dr Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar and Mehbooba Mufti.

As the Peoples Democratic Party chief has been in detention since August 5, when the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 was scrapped, her daughter Iltija Mufti operates her social media accounts.

Several mainstream leaders including Dr. Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti were put under house arrest following the abrogation of Article 370 in August this year that granted special powers to Jammu and Kashmir.

The government has decided to extend the house detention of Farooq Abdullah for another three months under the stringent Public Safety Act. The three-term chief minister of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state would continue to remain at his residence which has been declared a sub-jail.

Read more: US Presidential Candidate raises concerns on Kashmir

Peoples Democratic Party

Kashmir’s political parties have always operated in a middle-ground – between integrating completely with India and seeking outright independence.

By the very act of participating in India’s democratic processes and fighting elections, they acknowledged Delhi’s right to have a say in the affairs of the region. But in order to win votes, they have had to speak the language of popular sentiment.

Therefore, its two main parties, the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) officially stand for Kashmir’s right to autonomy and self-rule within the federal structure of India.

more than 500 members of the Jamaat-e-Islami have been jailed for “supporting armed rebellion” against the Indian rule in Kashmir.

However, revoking article 370 “wiped out the middle-ground held by Kashmiri politicians” and this void could be very well “filled by militants”, said Siddiq Wahid, a historian.

The PDP, just before the events beginning August 5, appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure that no unilateral decision is taken at any level that impinges upon the current constitutional arrangement and complexion of Jammu and Kashmir with the union of India.

However, BJP seems to prefer a hardline approach of executing any opposition, may it even be middle ground politicians.

The detention of Iltija Mufti, who remains one of the few people advocating on PDP’s behalf, seems to mirror BJP’s actions across Kashmir and other states that have erupted in protests as well, which is to silence opposing voices and alienate suppress any actions aimed to deter the establishment of a Hinduvta state.

Political arrests in Kashmir

 On Wednesday August 11th, former IAS officer Shah Faesal was detained at the Delhi airport after which he was sent back to Kashmir.

After he was taken into custody, Shah Faesal was shifted to Srinagar where he was again detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA). Faesal was bound for Istanbul, an official was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India

Kashmir’s political parties have always operated in a middle-ground – between integrating completely with India and seeking outright independence.

The ex-IAS officer, who was reportedly stopped from leaving the country, has now been placed under house arrest in Kashmir.

After the Centre abrogated the provisions of Article 370 for Jammu and Kashmir, the former IAS officer slammed the government saying the Valley was experiencing an unprecedented lockdown and its eight million population was “incarcerated” like never before.

“People are in shock. Numb. Yet to make sense of what befell them. Everyone is mourning what we lost. In my conversations with people besides 370, it’s the loss of statehood that has hurt people deeply. This is being seen as the biggest betrayal by the Indian state in the last 70 years,” said Shah Faesal.

Read more: Genocide of Kashmiris: OIC’s Human Rights Commission condemns India

The former civil servant had said, “My appeal has also been that let’s stay alive, then we shall fight back.

Furthermore, more than 500 members of the Jamaat-e-Islami have been jailed for “supporting armed rebellion” against the Indian rule in Kashmir.

The detentions were common in Kashmir in 2019, with more than 5,000 detained, including nearly 350 booked under the PSA.

Detainees in Kashmir today include three former state chief ministers, former legislators, activists, separatists, businessmen, students and even children as young as eight.

Facebook Comments