On December 25 when Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti inaugurated a meeting hall at Dakbunglow in south Kashmir’s Anantnag, media persons were denied access to the venue. This was despite that fact that they were formally invited to cover the event. Feeling humiliated, the journalists ended up staging protests against the government.
Next day, flanked by a battery of ministers from her Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), Mehbooba visited adjoining Pulwama district to lay the foundation stone of two bridges. But this time, media persons were not invited at all.
Earlier on December 10, which coincides with World Human Rights Day, she inaugurated 5th National Canoe, Polo and Dragon Boat Championship in Dal lake. The host, Kashmir’s Tourism department, had invited only a “selected” group of journalists to cover the event.
Though the official handout gave a rosy picture of the activity, the event was held in the Dal lake when its waters had actually frozen.
Since April 4 when Mehbooba Mufti took oath as the CM, she is yet to host an exclusive press conference in Kashmir. The only time she spoke at a presser was at the peak of the unrest, when Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired the function at her residence on August 25.
Talking to media persons that day, she apparently lost her cool when a journalist asked if she had swapped roles and views with her predecessor Omar Abdullah when he was in power. While calling off the presser midway, she wanted the journalists to have chai cuppa. Her parting remarks went viral, triggering a major controversy, mainly on the social media under #ChaiCuppa.
As of now, she is surrounded by fresh controversies like issuance of “domicile certificates” to West Pakistan refugees. Mehbooba could have interacted more with media persons to clear the air over the alleged failures of her government.
Such a move could be a short in the arm for efforts to restore normalcy in restive Kashmir. But then she avoids media. Has she turned shy or is she scared of taking queries? Well only she can reply to this, but till then you will have to wait!