Communal forces in Jammu target minority Muslims, especially Gujjar-Bakarwal: Mehbooba

mehbooba mufti, kashmir, jammu and kashmir, pdp, gujjar bakerwal, jammu
People's Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti speaking to media persons in Srinagar on 20 January 2019. Photograph by Bhat Burhan for The Kashmir Walla

Srinagar: Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) president, Mehbooba Mufti said they joined hands with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to preserve the rights of the tribal communities, including Gujjar-Bakarwal, and the regional minority i.e. the Muslim community of the Jammu region.

Addressing a press conference in Srinagar, the former CM of Jammu and Kashmir, said, “BJP got the huge public mandate in previous assembly elections in Jammu, and the Muslim community was afraid of being targeted,” citing various examples, including the Rasana case, Ms. Mufti said, “There are various powers that trying to create communal issues between the Hindu and Muslim communities in the Jammu region.”

Adding to it, she also addressed several land issues, where the rate of land in Muslim majority areas are being hiked. “In Bathindi, one canal cost almost 1 Cr 5 lakh, while in contrast to it, in Jawdi, it costs around 65 lakh.”

She also agreed to the idea of providing Pahadi community with special reservations. She said, “Gujjar-Bakarwal community are one of the earliest residents of the Jammu region, and every day, they are being targeted in different land accusation cases. Even during the previous tenure, we demanded to implement Forest Act in the state so that such incidents don’t happen.”

Addressing the issues of Gujjar-Bakarwals, she said that they are one of the most important parts of our community and “they always stood up to protect our country in all the wars and it is not good that the same people are being forced to leave their homes.”

Labeling the Rasana incident as ‘heart-wrenching’, she also recalled 1947, when ‘communal tension was very high’.   

She claimed that the Muslims are being threatened in Jammu of ‘creating 1947 type environment’, but simultaneously added that the scenario has changed and now Jammu is known for communal harmony. She also expressed her gratitude for the people of Jammu as since “past decades when problems occurred in the valley, Jammu gave space to migrants, whether Pandits or Muslims.”

When entire India was suffering from ghettoization, Jammu stood up as an example. From Laddhak to Kathua, they settled people in different regions and set up an example.

She stated that she believed that after her regime ended, the things (communal harmony) will stay the same under the governor’s rule as well, “but those communities have been targeted right under his (governor) nose. I met the governor in Jammu, and he assured that they won’t be troubled, especially in winters. Everyone knows that these communities graze cattle for the living, but they were troubled on the charges of smuggling anyways.”

While answering to the Ram Madhav’s statement about making Laddhak a separate division, she said that her party is not against it, “but we say that Rajouri, Poonch, Doda, and Kishtwar are also far from Jammu and they also should get a separate division,” and stated that PDP won’t allow the ghettoization in the J-K, as minorities are kept separate in other places.   

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