'Democracy a battle of ideas': Mehbooba Mufti condemns ban on Jamaat-e-Islami (JK), says Centre being high-handed

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who has been vocal regarding events in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, on Friday condemned the "crackdown" on the separatist group Jamaat-e-Islami (Jammu and Kashmir). The People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief was reacting to the Centre's decision to ban the group on Thursday.

"Democracy is a battle of ideas, (a) crackdown followed by the banning of Jammat Islami (JK) is condemnable. Another example of high handedness and muscular approach of the Government of India to deal with the political issue of Jammu and Kashmir," Mufti tweeted on Friday.

She further asserted that "ideas cannot be banned or jailed", but needs a "better idea" in place of it. "India is a democracy with different ideologies battling it out democratically. Steps like this choke the space for dissent and lead us to violent times," Mufti said. Mufti later appeared to have deleted the second tweet.

Democracy a battle of ideas: Mehbooba Mufti condemns ban on Jamaat-e-Islami (JK), says Centre being high-handed

File image of PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

On Thursday, the Centre banned the Jamaat-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir for five years under the anti-terror law on grounds that it was "in close touch" with militant outfits and is expected to "escalate secessionist movement" in the state. A notification, banning the group under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, was issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs after a high-level meeting on security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The notification said the Centre is of the opinion that the Jamaat is "in close touch with militant outfits" and is supporting extremism and militancy in Jammu and Kahsmir and elsewhere. It said the outfit claims "secession of a part of the Indian territory from the union" and supporting terrorist and separatist groups fighting for this purpose.

The notification, which came barely a few days after the Jammu and Kashmir Police had arrested around 100 cadres of the group in the state, said Jamaat has been indulging in activities intended to disrupt the territorial integrity of India. During the intervening night of 22 and 23 February, the police had carried out a crackdown on Jamaat cadres and arrested 100 across the valley, including its chief Abdul Hamid Fayaz and advocate Zahid Ali (spokesperson).

The action came following the February 14 terrorist attack in Pulwama, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.  There have been allegations in the past that the group was a political outfit of banned terror organisation Hizbul Mujahideen but the group has denied the charges.

The Centre is also of the opinion that the group is "involved in anti-national and subversive activities in the country intended to cause disaffection". While banning it under the anti-terror law, the Centre reasoned that the group was intending to escalate its subversive activities, including an attempt to carve out an Islamic state out of the Union of India by destabilising the government established by law.

The group is also expected to escalate secessionist movement, support militancy and incite violence in the country, the notification said.  The group has been banned for five years. It has to be ratified by a tribunal constituted by the home ministry.

The outfit, which was formed in 1945 as a chapter of the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind and separated in 1953 due to differences over political ideology with the parent body, was banned in 1990.
The previous ban lapsed in 1995 and since then it has never been invoked again.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Mar 01, 2019 14:36:39 IST

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