Srinagar: The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was almost written off after most of its top leaders deserted it last year, but the scenes at the residence of party president Mehbooba Mufti after her release on Tuesday night following 14 months in preventive detention suggest that there is a lot of fight left in her.
From a 70-year-old party worker from south Kashmir to whatever remains of the senior party leadership, PDP members on Wednesday made a beeline to Fairview Bungalow — the official residence of Mehbooba — hoping to meet the woman who is now being dubbed by her admirers as the ‘Iron Lady of Kashmir’.
She is ready for the fight, was the common refrain of those who met her.
The PDP is using social media to the hilt to enhance the image of Mehbooba, the first and last woman chief minister of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state, by posting videos and photographs of her meetings with her party workers. Noor Mohammad, a party worker from south Kashmir who can barely stand upright due to old age, was among the people who met Mehbooba Mufti less than 24 hours after her release.
“I left home at 6 AM to ensure that I return only after meeting my sister and leader Mehbooba ji. Her father (late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed) was blessed, so is she,” the elderly man said.
The scenes at Mehbooba’s residence were in complete contrast to last year when leader after leader deserted the PDP and later joined hands with Altaf Bukhari — a former minister and close aide of the PDP president who floated his own political outfit later.
“Mehbooba Ji was detained for the longest period which shows how much the BJP government at the Centre is frightened of her popularity among the masses,” Bashir Ahmad, a party worker from Anantnag district, said after meeting the PDP president.
Several PDP leaders, including former MLA from Wachi Aijaz Mir, posted laudatory tweets about the party leader.
“After a detention period of 1 year and 2 months, our party president @MehboobaMufti sahiba released today. We salute her steadfast determination & exemplary courage!” Mir tweeted.
Mehbooba, who led the PDP-BJP alliance government from April 2016 to June 2018, was arrested along with other leaders hours ahead of the Centre bifurcating the state into two union territories and abrogating Article 370.
After being released on Tuesday night, she said the Centre’s decision of August 5 was a “daylight robbery”.
“We all have to pledge that we will take back what was snatched illegally, undemocratically and unconstitutionally on August 5 last year.
“We will also have to work for the resolution of Kashmir issue for which thousands of people have laid down their lives,” Mehbooba said in an audio message on Twitter.
Mohit Bhan, a spokesman of the PDP, praised Mehbooba for her message.
“That’s how a leader talks. No 4G restoration demands. No Statehood restoration demands. One and only demand and resolve to fight for it. Restore our dignity, restore our pride and restore our rights,” Bhan said.
Firdous Tak, a former MLC, said it was the pressure of the Supreme Court that has worked in getting Mehbooba Mufti released.
Besides party workers, senior National Conference leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah visited Mehbooba Mufti at her residence.
Senior Congress leader Karan Singh welcomed Mehbooba Mufti’s release and expressed the hope that she will strengthen the democratic process by taking her agenda to the people once fresh elections take place.
DMK chief M K Stalin also expressed happiness over her release and urged the government to free other political detainees.
“The democratic processes, which have been suspended during this time, must also be reinstated,” he tweeted.