In her first press conference after her release from 14-month long detention, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti described the “struggle for the restoration of Article 370” and “resolution of Kashmir issue” as a long-drawn fight.

Mehbooba, who had the erstwhile J&K state’s flag in front of her during her press conference, said she wouldn't contest polls as long as the constitution of Jammu and Kashmir was not restored. 

She said the government shouldn’t construe that in this fight to restore Article 370, political parties would forget the Kashmir issue. She said the Kashmir issue is an issue and if New Delhi thinks it is not an issue, “the issue will eat you up”.

She said if some people in Delhi think that political parties and Kashmiris would forget Kashmir issue and Article 370 after some time they are living in a dream world. She said thousands of people have given sacrifices for the Kashmir issue and people have given blood for it. “Now it is the turn of the leaders to give blood,” she said. However, she hastily added, “we don’t want any violence.”

She said there is no lack of clarity in the political alliance of mainstream parties.

“We will use all peaceful means to achieve our objectives,” she added. She said since the removal of Article 370, the government has done everything to instigate people of Jammu and Kashmir for violence.

“Whether it is changing Urdu language as an official language, whether it is coming up with a domicile laws, whether it is removing Muslim officers from the civil secretariat, whether it is giving rights on our resources including sand to the outsiders, they (New Delhi) don’t need the people of Jammu and Kashmir. People of J&K don't matter to them. The people of Jammu and Kashmir are expendable for them. Only they want is their territory,” she said.

“We are incompatible with today’s India. It is India where minorities are not safe, Dalits are not safe, where the J&K constitution was robbed,” she added. She said people of J&K should be hopeful. She said the BJP doesn’t believe in the constitution but they believe in its manifesto and this wouldn’t work. 

She said it is not impossible that they would restore what they snatched on August 5, 2019. “I believe time will come when they would be begging us to take (Article 370) back,” she added. She said it is a political fight, which would be fought politically. She sought help from people to continue this fight.

Saying as long as the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is not restored under which she was fighting elections previously, she has nothing to do with the elections. “They have snatched the state flag from us. Our relation with the Tricolour was through a state flag. As long as the state flag is not restored, I won't take any other flag,” she added. 

She said the government has broken a pact it entered with J&K on the occasion of the accession of Jammu and Kashmir and in spite of having no Constituent Assembly in place, the government removed Article 370 unconstitutionally and by fraud. “This (restoration of Article 370) is a political fight even though the case with the Supreme Court,” she added.

She said the post-Article 370 abrogation Kashmir has become an international issue. “I think Kashmir has become more internationalized after Article 370,” she added. 

She said through this press conference that she wanted to convey to people not to be hopeless. She said efforts were made to discredit mainstream leaders of Jammu and Kashmir but they would fail. She said their efforts to discredit the mainstream failed and we did not allow anyone to dilute “our agenda even when we were in jail”. 

She said many political parties in India post abrogation of Article 370 thought it would happen to Kashmir only and didn’t raise their voice. But soon after it, Mehbooba said, they came up with the NRC, then “anti-farmer law’ and they would take away the rights of Dalits as well. “They are out to replace the Constitution of India with the BJP manifesto and this would run for long. Here many pharaohs and Hitler have come and gone. This autocracy won’t work,” she said.

She said the BJP HAS nothing to show except tom-tomming about Article 370.

“The government has failed to resolve issues and problems of the country. And now they are flogging Kashmiris, minorities, and Dalits. When they fail anything they talk about Article 370,” she said.