People's Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday criticised the Jammu and Kashmir government for “dismissing the Kashmiri youth who led the summer unrest” as drug addicts and people from the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Speaking at a news conference in Srinagar, Ms. Mehbooba said lakhs of people thronged the roads in Egypt seeking the ouster of the President. “They were not called drug addicts and paid agents. But when our people are on roads demanding justice, they are being labelled as LeT militants, paid agents and now recently as drug addicts by the State government. Does it mean that our 70,000 youths who were out on the roads are drug addicts? Our own people are hell-bent on defaming our youth,” she alleged.

This trend of “throttling democratic means” should end, she said. “Otherwise, the restless youth will resort to other means.”

“We have a similarity with Egypt as they were fighting for democracy and we are fighting in spite of the democracy since the past 63 years,” she said.

“After 9/11, a collective voice had emerged against violence and “there was a transition in Kashmir. People started to choose the ballot over the bullet. This transition continued after the 2002 and 2008 Assembly elections. However, the opportunity is being lost. The situation continues to be same,” the Opposition leader said.

She said economic self-reliance, administrative powers and restoration of J&K's strategic position were the key to resolution of the Kashmir problem.

She announced her party's plan to hold protest demonstrations in Srinagar and Jammu on February 14. The PDP would raise its voice against the “continuing arrests of youth and repression.”