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Political Mainstream Faced With Existential Question After Article 370 Repeal, Says Srinagar Mayor

Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattu also dismissed the claims of the Centre that the situation in the Valley was ‘normal’, saying the ‘absence of dead bodies’ could not be the ‘new definition of normalcy’.

Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattu, who was granted the status of a minister three weeks after the Narendra Modi government decided to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, sees the developments in the Valley since August 5 as “deeply disturbing and anguishing”.

Mattu, who is also the spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir People’s Conference (JKPC), was critical of the Centre’s decision to place mainstream politicians in the Valley under house arrest. “The mainstream as a whole is faced with a larger, more existential question at this juncture,” he told the Indian Express.

Mattu added that the leaders must strive to restore the “state’s eroded constitutional rights” and seek a reversal of the government’s move. His party, he said, has petitioned the Supreme Court to challenge the decision.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are under house arrest, with the government finally allowing them to meet their families after over 25 days. Abdullah’s sister met him on Monday, the 29th day of his house arrest, while on August 28, PDP chief Mehbooba’s mother and sister met her.

The mayor also dismissed the claims of the Centre that the situation in the Valley was “normal”, saying the “absence of dead bodies” could not be the “new definition of normalcy”.

When questioned if he was taken into confidence by the government and thus had some degree of freedom compared to the other politicians, Mattu denied the same and said it was his illness that did not make his continued detention sustainable.

The Modi government on August 5 decided to abrogate provisions of Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and divide it into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have also been high since the move. Pakistan, in retaliation, suspended trade ties with India and also expelled Indian High Commissioner Ajay Bisaria. It stopped services of the Samjhauta Express and later knocked on the doors of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in a bid to internationalise the issue.

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