‘PM’s Kashmir visit only to drum support among BJP’s core constituency in view of LS polls’: Mehbooba Mufti

SRINAGAR — Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kashmir is only meant to address and drum support among the BJP’s core constituency in the rest of the country in view of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said on Thursday, alleging that government employees were “forcibly” ferried to the venue of the prime minister’s event here.

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister alleged that government employees were “forcibly mobilised” and ferried to Modi’s rally to paint a “pretty picture that all is well” post 2019,“ when the Centre abrogated the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated the erstwhile state into Union territories.

“Government employees are being herded at five am in sub zero temperatures into vehicles at Budgam bus stand ferrying them to the PM’s rally.

“Disheartening to see employees being forcibly mobilised to paint a pretty picture that all is well post 2019 and that people here are celebrating their own collective disempowerment and humiliation,” Mufti said in a post on X.

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president said the scene “stands contrary” to earlier visits by previous prime ministers like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh at the peak of insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, when common people thronged to the venues of their events with great enthusiasm and returned with a hope in their hearts.

“But this time Kashmiris know that everything spoken at Bakshi stadium will be to showcase the so called benefits of illegal abrogation of Article 370 akin to putting salt to their wounds. This visit is only meant to address and drum support amongst BJP’s core constituency in the rest of India for the upcoming Parliament elections,” she said.

Another former chief minister and National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah also accused the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday of “pulling out all stops” to ensure a crowd for Modi’s rally.

He said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would not be able to do so on its own in Kashmir.

Abdullah said thousands of government employees have been asked to assemble at select locations before dawn so that they can be taken to the venue of Modi’s rally.

“Employees, men and women in 1000s are being asked to assemble between 4:30 am and 5:30 am in the freezing temperatures to be bused to the venue. This participation isn’t optional, it’s compulsory. Employees who don’t show up are being threatened with disciplinary action by their dept heads,” he said on X.

In his first visit to Kashmir after the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370, Modi will unveil multiple development projects worth more than Rs 6,400 crore and address a public meeting in Srinagar on Thursday.

The Lok Sabha polls are likely to be held in April-May. — (PTI)