Amid Sena, Bajrang Dal protests, Mehbooba Mufti arrives in Jammu for PAGD meeting

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti arrived in Jammu on Thursday to attend a meeting of the Peoples’ Democratic Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), which was formed last month to fight for the restoration of Jammu & Kashmir’s special status.

A spokesman for Mufti’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) said the meeting will be held on Saturday at another former chief minister Farooq Abdullah’s residence. Former minister Sajad Lone and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader MY Tarigami will be among others who will attend the meeting.

The meeting is being held amid anger over notification of rules to allow outsiders to buy non-agricultural land in the Union Territory. Jammu & Kashmir special status under Constitution’s Articles 370 and 35A, which was scrapped last year, prevented outsiders from buying land in the region.

A PAGD delegation is also expected to meet local leaders and the prominent people in Jammu. Another delegation of PAGD on Friday last visited Drass and Kargil in Ladakh under former chief minister Omar Abdullah’s leadership and vowed to fight for the restoration of the special status and Jammu & Kashmir’s unification.

Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal members staged a protest outside the Jammu airport as Mufti arrived there. They carried banners reading “Mehbooba Tiranga Uthao Ya Phir Wapis Jao [either pick up the Tricolour or go back]”.

Mufti last month said members of her party would not hoist the Indian tricolour unless they are allowed to raise the flag of Jammu & Kashmir. The erstwhile state’s special status provided for a separate flag.

Rakesh Bajrangi, a local leader, said that they will not allow any Kashmiri leader to hold the PAGD meeting in Jammu. “Jammu is a land of nationalist people and we are not going to allow the Gupkar gang to spread their anti-national agenda here.”

An additional police force was deployed at the airport to provide Mufti with a safe passage. The protesters showed her black flags as she left the airport.

Three members of Mufti’s party from Jammu, Ved Mahajan, TS Bajwa and Choudhary Hussain Ali Wafa, resigned over her remarks about the tricolour.

Activists Sukesh C Khajuria and Aditi Sharma have also lodged complaints against Abdullah and Mufti for their alleged provocative remarks.

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