Terming the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) an act of "vengeance" by the Central government, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said it would have "dangerous consequences". Talking to reporters in Srinagar, Mufti said, "There is an atmosphere of vengeance in the state, especially in the Valley after JeI youths and leaders were arrested. JeI is a social and political organisation. It is an ideology and I do not think you can imprison an ideology by arresting some activists of the outfit. We totally condemn it."
While there was no action against those persons responsible for incidents of lynching in the country, "a social organisation involved in helping the poor" in Kashmir has been banned, she said.
Only illiterate people can talk about war: PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti says dialogue only option for India, Pak
Pulwama terror attack: Mehbooba, Omar welcome SC direction to take action against assault on Kashmiris
Mehbooba Mufti in Aap Ki Adalat: If US can have talks with Afghan Taliban, why can't India have talks with Pakistan
"You have Shiv Sena, Jan Sangh, RSS in the country who have lynched people on the basis of eating a type of meat, but there was no action. However, an organisation which has been helping the poor and running schools has been banned and its activists put in jails. We will not allow this. Its consequences will be dangerous," Mufti said.
Asking the Centre not to turn Jammu and Kashmir into a prison, she said, "You cannot imprison an ideology, we live in a democratic nation and in a democracy, there is battle of ideas. If you have a better idea, let there be a battle on that, but do not turn J-K into a prison."
"We had not allowed the BJP to do whatever it is doing now (during the PDP-BJP coalition), but unfortunately there is no one to stop them (now). When a Kashmiri is beaten, people applaud and become happy," she said.
When asked about the sealing of properties of Jamaat leaders, including schools run by the organisation, the former chief minister said it was unfortunate and should not have been done.
"It is unfortunate as these schools were providing education to the poorest of poor. Their students are meritorious. Where will all these students go after their schools have been banned. They are playing with our future and this is very wrong. They should rather ban (RSS) shakhas where swords are displayed. No Jamaati carries a sword," she said.
Condemning the recent NIA raids on moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's properties, Mehbooba said the Centre wants every Kashmiri to pay for "a thought which is in his mind".
"I condemn the NIA raids on Mirwaiz. After all, he is the religious head of Jammu and Kashmir and has respect among the people. All these are acts of vengeance and it seems that they (Centre) want every Kashmiri to pay for a thought which is in his mind," she said.
Later, party leaders and activists took out a protest march against the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami. Various party leaders and activists assembled at party headquarters and tried to march towards Lal Chowk City Centre here, but were stopped by a large contingent of policemen near Sher-e-Kashmir Park.
Meanwhile, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Saturday said the Centre should reconsider its decision of banning the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) Jammu and Kashmir as the move would serve no purpose except to drive their activities underground.
"The centre should reconsider its recent decision. The situation in J&K had improved drastically between 1996 and 2014/15 without having to resort to such bans. There is nothing to suggest that this ban will in any way contribute to any improvement on the ground," Abdullah posted on Twitter.
The centre should reconsider its recent decision. The situation in J&K had improved drastically between 1996 and 2014/15 without having to resort to such bans. There is nothing to suggest that this ban will in any way contribute to any improvement on the ground.— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) March 2, 2019
The former chief minister said after the outbreak of turmoil in the state, the organisation was banned for more than five years in 1990, but "that ban served no purpose & achieved nothing".
"In the battle of ideas & ideologies we in the @JKNC_ have always opposed the Jamaat in the political space. The recent ban & crackdown against their leadership, members, schools & properties will serve no purpose except to drive their activities underground," the NC leader said.
In the battle of ideas & ideologies we in the @JKNC_ have always opposed the Jammat in the political space. The recent ban & crack down against their leadership, members, schools & properties will serve no purpose except to drive their activities underground.— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) March 2, 2019
Abdullah said his party has always had a difficult relationship with the JeI and had often been on different sides of the ideological divide. "In spite of these difference I can not support the recent crack down against them."
In a statement issued by the NC, Abdullah said the ban on JeI would "inadvertently" affect the peace-building efforts. "We may disagree with the ideology of (the) JeI but the move will unquestionably breed more radicalization."
Expressing dismay over the ban and sealing of Jamaat-run schools, Abdullah said the move would prove detrimental to the education sector as the organisation runs number of schools, where over one lakh students are said to be studying.
The NC vice-president said working on the root causes of violent extremism and developing effective counter narratives could lead to long-term sustainable results.
"But developing effective and counter narratives takes time and involves several steps. Banning will inadvertently shrink the space for dialogue and rapprochement. The move will yield nothing other than glamorizing dissent," he added.
(With agency inputs)