Reiterating the urgency of initiating unconditional dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today called for engaging all sections of the society in a credible and meaningful political process for the resolution of the issue.
"The country's political leadership must, without any further delay, reach out and engage all sections of the society including the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference in a productive dialogue process to resolve the issue and make peace a reality in Jammu and Kashmir," the Chief Minister said while interacting with the people at the remote village of Kraloo in Kund area of district Kulgam where she had gone to offer personal condolences to the bereaved family of Mashooq Ahmad Sheikh who was killed in security forces firing last month.
The Chief Minister said it is perhaps for the first time that the Kashmir issue has been, during the past two months, discussed in so many forums and at so many levels including the Parliament and at the All Party Meetings where judicious views were put across by all shades of the country's political opinion on how to end the stalemate. "The need of the hour is to build on this larger political consensus within the country and initiate tangible measures to address the issue," she said and added that during her meeting with the Prime Minister last month she suggested a three-pronged approach including talks with all sections of society within J&K including the separatist leadership and also with Pakistan to put the reconciliation and resolution process back on track. She expressed the hope that the upcoming visit of the All Party Delegation to the State will facilitate revival of the much-needed peace and resolution process in and around Jammu and Kashmir.
The Chief Minister said that the people of the State have given the present Government the mandate to voice their urges and aspirations and seek resolution of the problems by involving all the stakeholders in a productive dialogue process. "The same has been reiterated in the Government's 'Agenda of Alliance' wherein it has been made clear that the State Government will create conditions to facilitate resolution of all issues and will help initiate a sustained and meaningful dialogue with all the stakeholders, including all political groups in J&K irrespective of their ideological views and predilections to build a broad based consensus on resolution of all outstanding issues of J&K," she said.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's latest statement that the seeds of the current unrest in Kashmir were sown during Independence and a 'solution to the problem will be found', Mehbooba said the prevailing situation in Kashmir presents not just a challenge, but also an opportunity to the Prime Minister to take some bold measures towards resolution of the issue and make India more at peace not only with its neighbors, but also with itself.
"While the separatist leadership shall also have to take a step forward, the Centre on its part shall have to put off the fire on internal discontent. We have to apply a healing touch to the agonizing situation and address the causes of alienation, especially among the youth."
The Chief Minister faced protests during her visit, forcing her to cut short her stay. The police, however, termed the reports as baseless maintaining that the protests took place in neighboring villages and not the one Chief Minister was visiting.
Locals said that police early in the morning made announcements through Public Address Systems warning people against venturing out of their homes.
"Police, paramilitary forces and even army was deployed in every nook and corner of the village and we were unable to understand what exactly was happening," they said.
They said at around 9:30 a.m a helicopter started hovering over. CM landed in the nearby army camp and proceeded towards the house of victim family.
"Soon, people made announcements asking villagers to march towards Kraloo village," locals said.
He said that soon the villagers started marching forward, they were intercepted by the forces who lobbed numerous tear gas shells. "People pelted stones triggering intense clashes."
They said that following this, Chief Minister was forced to cut short her stay at the residence of the victim.
"A few stones were also hurled towards the cavalcade of CM."
"She barely stayed for around 8 minutes after which she moved towards the army camp where she again boarded the chopper and flied back," sources said.
Following this, police detained many youth in the area.
A police official termed the reports baseless that stone pelting incident occurred in the village at the time of Mehbooba's presence. "The stone-pelting incidents occurred in other villages and not at Kraloo."
Later in the evening, people set ablaze the house of local PDP Block President – Gulzar Ahmad Sheikh – who also accompanied Mehbooba during her visit. The locals blamed Sheikh for arrest of youths in the area.