Patriotism cannot be forced by batons, guns: Mehbooba

PDP chief seeks PM's intervention in release of three Kashmiri students held in Agra

Published - October 30, 2021 08:26 pm IST - Srinagar

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. File

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. File

Former J&K chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking his intervention in the recent arrests of Kashmiri youth for allegedly celebrating Pakistan’s win against India in the T20 World Cup match.

“Patriotism and a sense of loyalty has to be cultivated with compassion and can’t be forced by wielding the baton or by the barrel of a gun. Such punitive actions laced with contempt will only further the sense of mistrust and alienation between the younger generation and the rest of the country,” Ms. Mufti wrote.

Referring to the arrests of the three Kashmiri students in Uttar Pradesh and lodging of a case in Srinagar against medical students, Ms. Mufti said, “A friendly cricket match between India and Pakistan that was solely a source of entertainment for people here bruised by incessant lockdowns, Internet gag and restriction of movement, led to booking of youngsters under the draconian UAPA for simply choosing to cheer the winning side.”

She said three students were arrested in Agra and charged with sedition. “This despite the college’s own admission that they didn’t engage in any activity that might be construed as anti-national,” Ms Mufti said.

Addressing the Prime Minister, the PDP leader said she was writing with a deep sense of disappointment and concern about the alarming situation in J&K.

“Not too long ago when you (PM) presided over an all-party meeting in Delhi, you expressed your intention to remove dill ke doori (distance between hearts) between Delhi and J&K. I suggested a few Confidence Building Measures. We had been waiting for the roll out of a policy to address the hearts and minds of people, especially youth. While the spree of raids, arrests, killings continue unabated, the level of repression and state intolerance has touched a new low,” she said.

The former chief minister said there were expectations that Home Minister’s recent visit to J&K would have led to a meaningful outreach.

“Instead, what followed was shocking and worrying. Wisdom deems it prudent for this government to engage with them (youth), understand their aspirations and goals. I fervently request you to intervene so that the future of these young bright minds is not destroyed,” she added.

March disallowed

Meanwhile, the J&K authorities on Saturday prevented a protest march of the PDP over the issue in Srinagar.

“We wanted to register our protests against the arrest of Kashmiri youth ahead of the Home Minister's visit and after Pakistan's win. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to step out of the office. This is the degree of democracy that this regime talks about,” PDP spokesman Najmu Saqib said.

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