- PDP leaders TS Bajwa, Ved Mahajan and Hussain A Waffa quit the party
- The leaders said they were "feeling quite uncomfortable"
- They said her remarks on the national flag "hurt patriotic sentiments"
Three leaders today quit Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party (PDP) in Jammu and Kashmir saying her remarks on the national flag had "hurt patriotic sentiments".
PDP leaders TS Bajwa, Ved Mahajan and Hussain A Waffa sent a single resignation letter to party chief Mehbooba Mufti, who was released earlier this month after 14 months in detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
The leaders wrote they were "feeling quite uncomfortable" over some of her actions and statements.
"We are feeling quite uncomfortable over some of your actions and undesirable utterances especially which hurt patriotic sentiments...Instead of overcoming the challenges from within and outside by a process of broader consultations and trust, some elements within the party pulling the party and the leadership in a particular direction, thus deviating from the basic principles, agenda and philosophy, making it difficult to face the saner voices in the society," the letter said.
The three leaders said some of the actions and utterances were "unpardonable" and would not be forgotten by people at a time when the party wanted to move in the direction of its fundamental approach and identity and "regain its image" as a political alternative for the people. "In view of this, we feel uncomfortable and suffocated in the party, forcing us to take difficult decision of leaving the party," they wrote.
Mehbooba Mufti was among scores of political leaders detained in August last year, when the central government ended Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 and divided it into two Union Territories.
On Friday, the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, speaking to the media for the first time since her release, said she would not fly the Indian flag until the August 5 changes were rolled back. Calling the central government "robbers", she demanded that Jammu and Kashmir's separate flag be restored.
To protest against her comments, the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir held a "Tiranga (flag) march" today.
The flag marches - one in Srinagar and another in Jammu - featured bullet-proof cars flying the national flag, with police jeeps escorting them.
Mehbooba Mufti is a member of the "People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration", a grouping of Jammu and Kashmir parties to fight for the restoration of Article 370. The "People's Alliance" seeks dialogue between all stakeholders for a resolution.
On Saturday, the People's Alliance named National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah as its chairman and Mehbooba Mufti as its deputy chairperson. Farooq Abdullah asserted that the seven-party alliance was an anti-BJP platform and not an anti-national grouping.
Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah, both former chief ministers, were also released from detention earlier this year.