BJP supporting party whose leader build business on Hawala money from Pakistan: Mehbooba Mufti

JAMMU — The BJP is supporting a party which has been involved in Hawala money pumped in from Pakistan to fund militancy in Kashmir, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said on Wednesday, in a veiled attack on Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari.

Bukhari, a former PDP leader, was expelled from the party in January 2019.

His Apni Party has fielded Zafar Iqbal Khan Manhas from the Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary constituency against Mehbooba and National Conference leader Mian Altaf.

The seat goes to polls on May 25 in the sixth round of the seven-phase general elections and, besides them, there are 17 others in the fray.

“The first-of-its-kind attack on tourists in Pahalgam (on Saturday night that left a tourist couple from Rajasthan injured) should be investigated with a focus on the role of a party which brought Hawala money in large quantities from Pakistan for funding militancy (in Kashmir),” the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) president told reporters in Poonch district.

“I do not want to name anyone but if you try to find out, you will come to know who is behind handing over money to militants and (separatist) leaders. The connections are still intact and they can use those connections to do anything to ensure low polling percentage in Kashmir,” she said.

Mehbooba was apparently referring to Bukhari, who was a former minister in the 2015-18 PDP-BJP alliance government in Jammu and Kashmir. He had won the 2014 assembly elections on a PDP ticket and later formed the Apni Party with 31 former MLAs, mostly from the PDP, in March 2020.

“I am surprised that the BJP, which is claiming to be nationalist, is supporting the party that is involved in Hawala funding and has a direct role in bloodshed. The money pushed from Pakistan for militancy was also used to set up business,” Mehbooba alleged.

She also alleged that voters, particularly religious leaders and government employees, are being “harassed”. The central government should not fail the youth who are enthusiastically turning up to vote instead of using stones or guns, Mehbooba said.

“Employees are being threatened that their promotions will be stopped and they will be transferred if they do not vote for a particular candidate which I believe is interference in the elections. The Waqf board (headed by BJP leader Darakhshan Andrabi) is used to intimidate religious leaders,” she claimed.

Mehbooba said she hopes that “the prime minister (Narendra Modi) will intervene to ensure that no trickery is allowed to vitiate the atmosphere on the polling day (May 25)”.

Seeking support from the people, the PDP chief said she will raise all the issues being confronted by the people of the region, including construction of a tunnel along the Mughal road and a government medical college in Poonch, besides bringing various areas on the tourism map of the country. — (PTI)