These visits are being seen as Mehbooba Mufti's attempt at strengthening her base ahead of elections

Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Ministers and political rivals Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, who were ready to team up to form a coalition government in the state a few months ago, are back to criticising each other. This time over the People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief visits to the families of the terrorists in the Valley. After meeting the sister of a terrorist in south Kashmir's Pulwama last week, she met another family in Shopian today.

These visits are being seen by many as part of her strategy ahead of the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir. They say she is trying to strengthen her base by now showing compassion to the families of the terrorists when harassment and atrocities against families of terrorists marked her rule which ended in June when the BJP withdrew support to the coalition government.

The BJP has dismissed her outreach campaign as a "political gimmick".

After Governor Satya Pal Malik quipped that "speaking for terrorists is a political compulsion for her", the National Conference leader described Ms Mufti as the "architect" of the operations that killed hundreds of terrorists in the last three years, and accused her of now using "dead terrorists to appease the voter".
She used militants by sanctioning their deaths to appease the BJP and now she uses dead militants to try to appease the voter. Just how gullible does she think people are?- Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) January 3, 2019
That's the problem you only reach these people in opposition. Unlike you I prefer not to exploit their pain while in opposition only to forget all about it in power. Different horses for different courses.......— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) January 3, 2019

On Sunday, Mehbooba Mufti had visited a suspected terrorist's sister, who was beaten up allegedly by the police. She had stressed that she "won't allow bloodshed" and warned the police that such things must not repeat in the future.

"This is unacceptable. If you want to fight terrorists, fight them. Don't harass their families," Ms Mufti said after meeting Rubina at her home in Pulwama.

She had urged the governor to look into the incident and take necessary action.

"I want to ask the governor if you have a fight with a militant, why are his relatives, especially his sister, beaten? We will not allow this. I want to tell the governor and warn the police as well that if there is another such incident, then there will be dangerous consequences," she had said.

The PDP chief shared some photographs on Twitter today in which she is seen holding hands of a weeping woman. She wrote in the post, "No mother wants her son to pick up a gun and lose his life in the prime of his youth. Therefore harassing the family is not going to help the situation. Had my initiative of cease fire sustained many more precious lives would have been saved."

In another tweet, she said that "no force can help us win this war with our people."
No force or military can help us win this war with our people. Only affection of mothers and family will help reclaim our own generation in rage. Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) January 3, 2019

Governor Satya Pal Malik said that he didn't take her words in a bad taste as she is the daughter of his friend Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, but added that "the elections are coming so they will talk like this because of their compulsions..."

The governor also assured action if anything wrong had happened anywhere.

"We have no fight with the families of the terrorists and had already passed strict orders to the forces not to indulge in excesses against them. If something like that happened as she (Mehbooba) is claiming, I will certainly order a high-level probe into it," the governor said.

The state is expected to vote for a new government by May next year.

Governor Satya Pal Malik had on November 21 dissolved the 87-member state assembly after the PDP, supported by the Congress and National Conference, had staked claim to form the government.

The two-member People's Conference led by Sajjad Lone had also staked claim to form a government with 25 members of the BJP and other 18 unknown members.

The governor had listed horse-trading and lack of stability to form a government as the reasons for his decision.