‘Thousands of gunmen couldn’t accomplish anything in ‘90s, what would 300 achieve?’
Stating that violence won’t achieve anything, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday asked local militants to “return to the mainstream, give up arms and live a normal life.”
“Today an encounter is going on at Chadoora, Budgam. We made all our efforts to tell the boy (militant) to lay the arms and return to the mainstream as violence won’t yield anything. What the violence has given us is only death and destruction,” she said, addressing Peoples Democratic Party workers in South Kashmir’s Kokernag area, while campaigning for her brother and the party’s candidate for Anantnag-Pulwama parliamentary seat, Mufti Tassaduq Hussain.
The Chief Minister said she has already issued instructions to security agencies to “try their best to make local militants surrender even during encounter situations.”
“Graveyards and cremation grounds are getting filled up. Whosoever gets killed—whether a policeman, army man, civilian or a militant—belongs to this country. Violence will only lead to bloodshed. It did not yield anything in early nineties when there were thousands of militants around. So how will it now (yield anything) when there are not more than 300 militants. It (violence) is not a solution to any problem; dialogue is the only way forward,” she said.
Mehbooba said she had never imagined that youth would attack security establishments and camps they were once scared of.
“There was a time when people were made to get down from vehicles and walk a distance with hands up near camps of security forces. You must be remembering how I used to save the youth from the wrath of the security men in these camps,” Mehbooba said.
“People were terrified of these camps. I had never ever thought that my youth will attack the same camps which they were once sacred of. As a result, bullet was fired and we lost 76 people and many more sustained injuries last year,” Mehbooba said.
She also blamed the opposition for “fueling the fire” during last year’s summer uprising triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
Referring to the opposition, she said: “They know it well that if the situation remains normal, our government would lead the state towards progress and prosperity and they would become irrelevant. Hence, they are trying everything to foment trouble in Kashmir.”
Expressing concern over “growing uncertainty” and “sense of insecurity” prevailing in J&K, she said: “The uncertainty and chaos are looming large. Youth who should have been carrying balls in their hands are carrying stones. This is the thing to ponder over. We need to knock at the doors of our angry youth and make them understand that violence won’t yield anything but destruction. We need to take our state out of this quagmire.”
She asked the people to help her in restoring peace. “During our first tenure in the government (from 2002 to 2005), the then UPA government at the Centre allotted Rs 24,000 crore economic package to J&K which the National Conference–Congress government spent later. This time we got even bigger amount of Rs 80,000 crore from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But due to the uncertain situation, we are unable to spent these funds,” she said.
Mehbooba said: “I appeal to old and young to give me peace and see the change for themselves.”
Welcoming the statement of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh that India was ready to talk to everyone in Kashmir, Mehbooba said: “The central government had even deputed a team to talk to separatists during last year’s unrest but they declined to hold any parleys. This time they should not miss the opportunity.”
Mehbooba, while recalling the “contribution” of her late father and former Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, said: “He (Mufti) was known for taking some hard decisions at crucial junctures, but time has proved that these hard decisions paid in the long run.”
“He (Mufti) supported Congress in J&K when they were considered untouchable and later late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah signed an accord with Indira Gandhi. Similarly, he took a decision of allying with BJP in the interest of people and time will prove him right again,” she said.
Praising Prime Minister Modi, Mehbooba exuded hope that he would “emulate Vajpayee” as “he is trying his best to foster better ties with neighboring country and his surprise visit to Pakistan was a step in that direction.”
“But unfortunately Patahankot incident happened and the process couldn’t be carried forward,” she said.
Asking her workers to vote in favor of her brother Tasaduq in the upcoming by-polls for Anantnag-Pulwama parliamentary seat, Mehbooba said she wants to carry forward the legacy of her father.
“He (Tasaduq) had no need to join politics. He used to earn Rs 4 lakh per day as he is a well-known cinematographer. He is a self made person who stood on his feet from a very tender age. My father always used to say that he could not do much for him. But the urge to serve and fullfill the dreams of his father tempted Tasaduq to join PDP.”
In his address, Tassaduq talked of sustainable development and developing tourism sector in sync with ecological concerns.