Hazare turning blind eye to corruption in Kashmir: Mehbooba

By George Joseph, IANS,

New Delhi : Accusing anti-corruption campaigners like Anna Hazare and political leaders of turning a “blind eye to the rampant corruption and shocking political crimes in Kashmir”, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti says this apathy towards the state “is the tragedy of Kashmiris”.

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The custodial death of a worker of Jammu and Kashmir’s ruling National Conference (NC) worker, Sayeed Muhammad Yousuf, 61, said to be close to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, had not been taken up by Hazare and others as they wanted to safeguard the “so-called national interest” for public consumption in India, the opposition leader alleged.

“The apathy of Hazare or other activists or the political leaders in India towards developments in (Kashmir) Valley is the tragedy of Kashmiris. If an incident like the death of Yousuf happened in some other state, they would have shouted from the rooftops,” Mufti told IANS over the phone from Srinagar Friday.

“They all are turning a blind eye to the rampant corruption and shocking political crimes in Kashmir.”

According to Mufti, all political developments and incidents of atrocities in Kashmir were looked at through the “prism of national interest” by the civil society, politicians and even media.

“If this is the approach, I am afraid those who indulge in undemocratic acts and corruption in Kashmir will have a field day.”

“All remember how forcefully the Indian media and activists took up the Jessica Lall murder case. Why not even an iota of that initiative on the Yousuf death case?” she asked, referring to the 1999 murder of the Delhi model and the public pressure that led to the conviction of the accused.

The PDP and other opposition parties have been clamouring for the resignation of the chief minister following the Sep 30 death of Yousuf. The opposition says he was handed over to police custody by Abdullah following complaints that he was taking bribes in return for the promise of legislators’ posts and ministerial berths.

Yousuf died in police custody after he was taken away from the chief minister’s chamber in Srinagar. The PDP has also alleged that Yousuf was privy to several secrets and corrupt deals of Omar Abullah and his father and union minister Farooq Abdullah.

According to Mufti, Abdul Salam Rishi, another NC worker, has told a television channel that he was a witness to the interaction between Omar Abdullah and Yousuf, which ended in heated arguments.

The chief minister has announced a judicial probe into the incident while Abdullah Senior denied charges of accepting bribes in lieu of party posts.

The PDP believes that “the investigation, done while Omar in office will be an eyewash”.

Mufti also criticised civil society for not protesting the release of the names of some 1,300 rape vicitms in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly recently.

“If such a thing happened in the rest of the country, the activists and politicians would have brought down the heavens. Since it was Kashmir, nothing happened.”

While the names of rape victims with details such as their parentage was made public, nothing was mentioned about the rapists. Under opposition pressure, the chief minister had to apologise for the act, she added.

(George Joseph can be contacted on [email protected])