Srinagar: Hitting out at separatists, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said they rake up unnecessary controversies over Article 370 of the Constitution and asked them to rather focus on protecting the people and the environment of the state.
She also made it clear that dialogue with separatists can take place only after “the situation improves”. “I am surprised that (Muslim) preachers talk so big about Article 370 (in their sermons). What is Article 370? It is of significance only if we are at peace,” Ms Mufti said in the Assembly while replying to a debate on demand for grants for departments under her charge.
In an apparent reference to Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is the chief priest of Kashmir and gives sermons after Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid, the Chief Minister said it was not for the preachers to look after the special provisions of the Constitution with regard to the state but for the mainstream political parties of the state.
“What are they talking about safeguarding Article 370… They are looking for something else. It is we (pointing towards MLAs) who have to protect it. It is our shared inheritance and nothing in it will change,” she said.
Ms Mufti said the preachers do not talk about harassment of women and girls in the society nor do they mention enviromental degradation in their sermons.
“I also belong to the family of preachers. We have to strive for protecting the environment and the water bodies. For years, we dumped our garbage in River Jhelum and it retaliated by dumping it back in our homes for 10 days (by floods). But we still did not learn any lessons,” she said.
The PDP chief also hit out at opposition National Conference and Congress for repeatedly questioning her party’s alliance with BJP and asserted that she will enter into such a coalition thousands of times if it brought peace with dignity to the state.
“The alliance with the BJP was taken to respect the mandate of the people. We cannot have a government of one religion (sic) and opposition of another religion. I will form this alliance thousands of times if it helps in restoring peace with dignity in the state,” she said.