Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti visited the family of a militant in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on a day when the security forces killed four militants in the region. She accused the Jammu Police of unecessarily harassing the militant's sister and family and beating her up while she was in the custody.
Mufti also warned of a severe backlash and urged J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik and his administration to ensure that the families of militants are not harassed.
Mufti was all guns blazing against BJP by alleging that the triple talaq bill introduced by the central government in Parliament aims to break the Muslim families in the country. She also said that in J&K, which is a Muslim majority state, people have decided to stay with Mahatma Gandhi's secular ideology and so the BJP should not convert India into Zia-ul-Haq's Pakistan.
Visibly, there is a marked difference in Mufti's body language and statements than a few months ago. At a time when some of the senior leaders from the party have joined the rival camps and the State Assembly elections are to be held soon, is the former Chief Minister and PDP President back to her soft separatism ways?
"We are reclaiming our space. Yes, we have done mistakes and are rectifying those. What is wrong in visiting the families of militants? We have done that earlier as well. Even when Madam was the CM, she did visit the agrieved families in South Kashmir. But, at least we have taken the initiative. How many people from NC and Congress can go to South Kashmir and dare to visit the families of militants?, " Waheed Parra, Mehbooba's aide and PDP Spokesperson told the International Business, Times, India.
The PDP spokesperson dared Omar Abdullah to hold a single rally in South Kashmir, which is the most militancy infested region in the valley now. The encounters on almost a daily basis and the killings of militants especially locals has turned the tables for PDP which had a strong hold in South Kashmir for many decades.
The anger among the people was apparent when the by- polls could not be held in Anantnag constituency, also Mufti's home turf because of the worsening law and order situation there.
"We have not lost South Kashmir. Our candidates have dared to win from there and we can claim that there is no mainstream competiion from the region for us. Despite our mistakes, people have not rejected us. That was evident when Mehbooba jee visited the area yesterday and there were no protests against her and no stone pelting cases reported," Parra said.
He added that there would be more such visits to the families of militants and other sufferers in the days to come.
As for Mehbooba's criticism against BJP, which was also her former ally, Parra said that they lost power because they did no acede to BJP's demands when in coalition.
"We were still advocating talks with Pakistan, visiting the pellet victim's families, investigating Kathua rape and murder case which did not go down well with BJP and they pulled out of the government.We will stick to our prior agenda in the run upto the state elections," Parra said.