RAJOURI/JAMMU: PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday hit back at Lt Governor Manoj Sinha over his remarks that previous governments in Jammu and Kashmir provided jobs to terrorists and their families, saying this "is not our tradition" but giving employment to "hooligans" might have been a custom in Uttar Pradesh.
"LG sahab has come from Uttar Pradesh and was probably speaking about his experience there. There might have been a tradition to provide jobs to mafia and hooligans in Uttar Pradesh but that is not our tradition," the former chief minister said in Rajouri when asked by reporters about his statement at a function in Jammu on Monday.
Mehbooba also attacked the BJP, alleging it has created a fear psychosis in Jammu and Kashmir by making random arrests and is using the same policy in the rest of the country to silence the voice of the Opposition.
In a veiled attack on the National Conference (NC), the Congress and the PDP, Lt Governor (LG) Sinha on Monday said previous governments had provided jobs to terrorists and their family members, while his administration has made the recruitment process transparent to ensure jobs are given to meritorious students only.
"What can they say who provided jobs to terrorists and their family members? They have no right to speak against the recruitment process when they have made one lakh back-door appointments. The time has gone when the jobs were selling in shops," the LG had said.
His comments came close on the heels of NC president Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba recently joining a candlelight vigil by job aspirants protesting against the hiring of a previously blacklisted company for conducting computer-based written tests.
Earlier addressing a public meeting in Rajouri, Mehbooba claimed that "Jammu and Kashmir is going through a very difficult phase and people are frightened to speak on any issue".
"Inflation has broken the back of people, unemployment is on the rise despite a promise by the BJP that it will create jobs for the youth after the abrogation of Article 370," she said.
The government in 2019 had abrogated the article, which granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated in into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Seeking people's support, Mehbooba said she can do nothing on her own.
"You have to join me and strengthen my voice to safeguard our identity and culture, land and jobs, besides fighting oppression," she said.
Defending her party's alliance with the BJP in 2014, Mehbooba said PDP patron and former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed took the difficult decision in view of the people's mandate to the BJP in Jammu in the 2014 assembly elections.
"It was not the PDP which brought the BJP to power in J&K...The fact is that we implemented the party's (PDP) agenda and did not allow the BJP to run its agenda," she said.
"Our efforts kept Article 370 safe and after the fall of the government, the BJP abrogated Article 370 which came like an earthquake, and its aftershocks are still rattling J&K in the form of various laws like property tax," Mehbooba said and added that the PDP did not allow the BJP to "bulldoze houses".
The PDP "even withdrew cases against 12,000 youth who were jailed and shifted to outside jails (in places) such as Agra and Haryana after 2019", the former chief minister said.
Referring to Hurriyat's Syed Ali Shah Geelani not allowing entry to parliamentarians into his house in September 2016, she said, "We tried to rope in the Hurriyat Conference for dialogue and wrote a letter to them to meet visiting parliamentarians but they shut their doors to the guests, giving a wrong message across the country."
Mehbooba said her government had also announced a one-month unilateral ceasefire with militants but there was no positive response from the other side.
The PDP government had also cleared the decks for the regularisation of 60,000 casual labourers but nothing moved after the fall of the government and they are still on the roads, she claimed.
Referring to the slapping of Public Safety Act on politicians, including herself in 2019, she said "they dubbed us anti-national and did not allow the opposition to raise their voice".
"They are utilising the same experiment in other parts of the country, jailing political leaders on the false charge of corruption," she said.
The PDP will not stay silent and will continue to raise its voice against the BJP government which is violating the constitution and trampling democracy, Mehbooba said.