Authorities on Sunday barred the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from holding a youth convention here citing COVID-19 restrictions, with party chief Mehbooba Mufti describing the move as "sabotage".
The convention of the youth wing of the party was scheduled to take place at the PDP president's 'Fairview' residence on Gupkar Road here.
However, all roads leading to the venue were sealed by the police and no movement was allowed on the road. Journalists were also barred from moving towards the venue. A PDP spokesperson claimed that Mufti was placed under house arrest.
However, there was no official confirmation.
In an order, the Executive Magistrate, First Class, South Srinagar said in view of the report received from the Senior Superintendent of Police and in view of COVID-19 restrictions in place, "it is hereby ordered that the scheduled youth conference that is to be held by PDP at Gupkar is hereby not allowed." The magistrate directed the station house officer concerned to "ensure" that no such event takes place "without the permission of the competent authority." PDP spokesperson Najam-us-Saqib said the party activists were barred from moving towards Mufti's residence.
After the convention at Mufti's residence was foiled, the party tried to hold it at its headquarters near Sher-e-Kashmir Park here, "but the office was also sealed by the administration," the spokesperson said.
He claimed that Mufti was placed under house arrest.
In a video message put up on her party's Twitter handle, Mufti described the move by the authorities as "sabotage".
"I wanted to speak to the young people associated with my party. Now they (authorities) remember Covid and sabotage this event," she alleged.
The former chief minister of the erstwhile state of J-K charged that the government was looking for new ways to "deny rights" to the youth of Kashmir and to "pull them away from democracy and push them on the path to violence".
"So that it is easier for them to rough them up or throw them in jail. This is what they have been doing for the last three years," she added.
Mufti said the party's activists from all parts of the valley wanted to come and meet and have a conversation.
"They wanted to talk about the situation in J-K.... They (the government) don't let young people leave their homes. If they do, they become victims of either the bullet or the baton or are thrown in jail," she alleged.
Mufti charged, that the government is "pushing you (youngsters) on purpose to a path of violence" so that "it is easy for them to fire at you, charge at you".
"But, we don't have to give up and we don't have to bend. I am proud of you because they are afraid of you, not me. They are afraid of your strength and your will," she said.
The PDP chief said her party will continue the "struggle, peacefully and democratically, for J-K's prosperity, unity, dignity and to resolve the Kashmir issue".
She said that on the one hand, the prime minister talked to US President Joe Biden about India's democracy, but on the other, in Kashmir they have allegedly destroyed it.
"We all have to come together, especially the youth. We have to show them that we are not afraid of them. If we were afraid, then we would also make compromises like other parties.
"If we had done that, we would not be denied permission to hold a meeting citing Covid. In the last week, all other leaders and parties are travelling to different parts and holding rallies. When PDP decided to do the same, we were denied. Why?" she said.
Asking the youth to remain steadfast, Mufti said the authorities "may have shut the doors and barred you from coming here, but I will reach you to take forward the agenda for which PDP was created -- to resolve the Kashmir issue and restore our dignity".
"They've taken away everything from Kashmir. I am shocked that the government here is so afraid of the PDP. They are not afraid of other parties, so why us?" she said.