Just because there aren't dead bodies lying around on the streets of Kashmir, it doesn't mean everything is normal, feels Srinagar Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu, who was given the status of Minister of State (along with his Jammu counterpart), after Centre revoked Article 370 last month.
Mattu, who is also the spokesperson of Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference (JKPC), slammed Centre's "excess".
Backstory: Before abrogating Article 370, Centre detained politicians
J&K was put under an unprecedented security cover on August 5, before Centre decided to split the state into two UTs, and withdraw its special status.
Notably, it's been almost a month and there is little clarity on when the Centre, run by BJP, plans to release them.
Mainstream politicians are being hunted and hounded: Mattu
Now, JKPC was seen as BJP's most-likely ally. In fact, Mattu was elected to the post of Srinagar Mayor last year, with the help of BJP.
But he himself doesn't approve of Centre's move.
"Over the years, political activists in Kashmir have braved threats and violence by terrorist elements to survive in the mainstream. But today, they are hunted and hounded," he told NDTV.
According to Mattu, threats have always existed in Valley
Further, Mattu claimed Kashmir is facing "existential crisis" with Article 370 becoming a thing of the past.
"We have always lived with the very palpable threat of violence, that's not a new scenario. But to use that to justify the withdrawal of fundamental rights... that's at the very core of alienation in Kashmir," he said, adding that people haven't been able to contact their families.
Is absence of dead bodies new definition of normalcy?: Mattu
"The media and administrative narrative seems to be content in defining 'normalcy' in a purely operational context. If the absence of dead bodies is the new definition of 'normalcy' - what can one possibly say," Mattu told Indian Express in another interview.
Further, Mattu also answered why he wasn't "detained"
When asked if the government confided in him, as he wasn't arrested like other leaders, Mattu told the newspaper he was allowed to visit Delhi on August 13 for medical treatment.
"I wonder if that amounts to 'relative freedom' - but you are entitled to your interpretations. No, the Centre has not kept me in its confidence," he went on.
Earlier, Foreign Minister explained why clampdown was necessary
The clampdown has put the government at receiving end of criticism, but it has been fiercely defending it.