One of Kashmir’s most senior democratic leaders stated that India is committed to holding new elections in the region, and must also release political prisoners and other measures to restore public confidence.
After India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mehbooba Mufti, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, also called for financial support plans to help repair the region’s hard-hit economy. Expressed his intentions To restore its democratically elected government.
“They need to reach people, so [they] You can see that things are moving forward,” Mufti said in an interview with the Financial Times after the Kashmir leader’s meeting with the central government. “Otherwise, it looks like a photo manipulation. “
In August 2019, the Modi government severely disrupted Kashmir and its tourism-based economy. Suddenly scrapped A constitutional provision guarantees the political autonomy of India’s only Muslim-majority country that has been scarred by the separatist rebellion backed by Pakistan.
New Delhi directly controlled and evacuated more than 20,000 Indian and foreign tourists from Kashmir, claiming Terrorist threat, Putting local residents under lockdown and suspending mobile phone or Internet services for several months.
Several key Kashmir politicians were detained, including Mufti, who was detained and placed under house arrest for 14 months.
Last week, Modi and India’s Interior Minister Amit Shah met with Kashmir’s democratic leaders for the first time since the political reorganization to meet the new election plan. However, they did not promise a timetable and stated that there will be a process of redrawing the election map first.
India faces pressure to restore democracy in Kashmir because of its involvement Secret talk To improve relations between the two countries with Pakistan, the two countries fought three wars in the region.
The Modi government is also struggling to cope with growing strategic pressure. Confident China And the United States is about to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.
Mufti is cautiously optimistic that the meeting last week marked the beginning of the process of improving conditions, but criticized the Indian authorities for using national security and anti-terrorism laws to suppress public opinion. Kashmir Autonomy.
“They did something that we thought was illegal and unconstitutional, but you can’t even talk about it,” she added.
Mufti said she had urged Modi to give Kashmiris “some breathing space” to express themselves. “People really feel asphyxia“,” she said. “How long can people keep anger in their hearts? It may explode at any time. “
Mufti said that since taking control of the area, New Delhi has been pushing for the passage of laws to make it easier for outsiders to obtain residency rights, obtain local government jobs and purchase real estate.
She added that these changes have heightened concerns that the government wants to change the demographic characteristics of Kashmir and reduce the indigenous population to minorities in their hometown.
Mufti said that New Delhi should avoid implementing new laws on the territory until a democratically elected government is in place.
“People are really scared,” she said. “Various laws are about to be promulgated, further depriving the people of the country of power.”
Mufti also reaffirmed her commitment to the restoration of Kashmir’s political autonomy, which she said is essential to ensure the “security of our resources, our work, and especially our identity”.