In a wide-ranging interview to author and columnist David Devadas, the former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir and president of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti, said Kashmiris feel suffocated, but she also spoke of the inevitability of reconciliation by the Centre.
“Dum ghut gaya hai (one can’t breathe),” says former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in what she describes as “an open-air prison”. Acknowledging that there has been repression in the past, too, she says, “I haven’t seen it so bad” that “people are scared even within the four walls of their house”.
That is indeed true of many in Kashmir. Few say that they are satisfied, although many are getting on with their lives placidly.
To emphasise her point, Mehbooba says that boys who came for a protest she led were asked to sign a bond that they would not protest again.
When she didn’t go to meet the Delimitation Commission, her mother got a notice from the Enforcement Directorate. And when she organised a public meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party, of which she is the president, her mother was summoned by the ED.
Holding that one “can’t hold people under the gun for a long time”, she speaks of a lot of resultant anger: “People feel humiliated and hurt” for “they [the government] have gone all out to disempower us”.