Demilitarisation, AFSPA revocation in J&K long overdue: Ruhullah Mehdi

SRINAGAR — Demilitarisation and revocation of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir are long overdue as dignity, peace, and democracy cannot survive in the presence of a huge military grid, the National Conference’s Srinagar Lok Sabha seat candidate Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi has said.

A three-time former MLA from the Budgam assembly segment, Mehdi said that along with the restoration of Article 370 provisions, which he termed the ”article of dignity”, removal of AFSPA is equally important.

”The need to do that (revoke AFSPA) was yesterday. It is too late. As the government of India tries to claim that we have normalcy, why not lift AFSPA?” Mehdi told PTI in an interview while on campaign trail in this central Kashmir district which is comes under the Srinagar parliamentary constituency.

An influential Shia leader, Mehdi said, ”No sense of dignity or peace and democracy can survive in the presence of such a military grid and establishment that we have. This military presence needs to be now taken back to the barracks.”

Talking to PTI, Mehdi said that even if Article 370 is restored and AFSPA continues, ”I feel that dignity, in the right sense, and peace is incomplete. So, AFSPA has to go, the military footprint has to go”.

”They (Armed forces) need to go back to barracks and the people of Jammu and Kashmir need to be given a sense of normalcy, the air of openness and confidence to move freely without the fear of security forces,” he added.

In response to a question about attacks on Muslims in the country, political or otherwise, the NC candidate said it was ”serious” and ”this is what takes India away from the principles that it promised when it was founded”.

”This takes India away from the dignity which led us to incline towards it. India promised to be a secular nation in which every religion would have its respect and dignity and the right to survive. After 70 years, we see fascist forces in the shape of RSS and BJP who have torn the social fabric and degraded the principles and the secular credentials of India,” he said.

The Shia leader claimed that now Muslims ”are used for intimidation to woo the hard-core Hindutva vote bank” and ”the direction in which the present regime is taking India is very dangerous for you, me and the entire nation”.

”It is very dangerous not only for India but also for the fraternity of democracy worldwide… It is a nation which took pride in its secularism, diversity and pluralism,” he added.

If India continues with the principles it had adopted during its Independence, it will grow as it grew through the last 70 years and ”if goes the fascist way, the future will be same as that of the Hitler’s regime or that of Pakistan which went on the same route”, Mehdi said. — (PTI)