Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik today said that Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti's demand for action against an Army officer accused of military excesses "need not be taken seriously". The remark drew allegations of political bias from regional parties.
"She doesn't need to be taken seriously. We will not allow the morale of security forces to be affected by statements like that of Mehbooba Mufti," Mr Malik told reporters here today, claiming that the PDP chief's demand was aimed at garnering public support ahead of the upcoming assembly polls. "It is election time and her party is breaking. She is in a bad state. She came to power through this sort of support earlier too," he added.
The Governor's remarks came a day after Ms Mufti demanded action against Major Rohit Shukla for allegedly torturing Tauseef Wani - a Pulwama resident - at the army's Shadimarg camp. The officer was also accused of threatening to kill Mr Wani in an encounter.
Mr Malik maintained that while his administration was willing to consider complaints against police personnel, he wouldn't let anything demoralise the armed forces. "Wherever there are atrocities, we take action. In some such cases concerning the police force, we are taking action and transferring all of them (erring police personnel). But we still stand with our forces," he said.
The PDP president expressed disappointment over Mr Malik's statement. "It is sad to see the honourable governor talking politics instead of taking cognizance of the brutality that the young boy was subjected to. Saddened to see constitutional authorities taking sides so brazenly," she said in a tweet, adding that he should "call a spade a spade" instead of accusing her of demonising the Army.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also came out in Ms Mufti's support, terming it as "unnecessary interference in politics". "At this rate, it won't be long before people stop taking Raj Bhavan seriously. So please consider the office you occupy before giving statements," he tweeted.
Mr Malik, who was previously the Governor of Bihar, has often been accused of furthering the central government's agenda through his constitutional post. Last November, the Governor had scuttled an attempt by the PDP to form a government in the state with the National Conference's support. He later said the decision to dissolve the state assembly was taken to discourage "horse-trading" and prevent parties with "opposing political ideologies" from forming an unstable government.
Other BJP-appointed Governors such as Kiran Bedi and Tathagata Roy have also been accused of expressing political views despite occupying constitutional positions. The Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal often finds itself at loggerheads with State Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi too.
(With inputs from PTI)