Admitting that government forces had to use excessive force in the past five months of uprising in Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Wednesday urged the police to "change its line of action so that wounds inflicted on people are healed."
She also directed the police and other forces to differentiate between militants and their family members and not to see everybody as a suspect.
Addressing the passing out-cum-attestation parade of a batch of 355 new police recruits at Commandos Training Centre (CTC) Lethpora in South Kashmir's Pulwama district, the Chief Minister said, "Over the past five months, lot of damage with regard to life and property took place here. Civilians, policemen and other security forces personnel sustained injuries," Mehbooba said.
She said that forces had to use excessive force while dealing with the situation.
"I will not shy away from speaking the truth. We were left with no option other than to take tough measures to protect life and property," the Chief Minister said.
"Had we not done that, the damage to life and property would have been much more."
About 96 civilians were killed, over 16,000 injured and more than 10,000 arrested by security forces in Kashmir during the past five months of pro-freedom uprising in Kashmir triggered by the killing of militant commander BurhanWani on July 8. About 1200 of those injured have been fully or partially blinded by pellet guns used by security forces on protesters. Two policemen have also been killed during the period.
Mehbooba said since the situation was returning to normal now, police too needs to change its "line of action."
She said government was not concerned about those hitting the streets, but the "people sitting idle in the homes due to frequent strike calls."
"Situation is different today as compared to what it was five months before. I seek help from you. You will go to the field now. Police is the face of government on ground," she said.
She said if police would ensure peace as a permanent feature, laws like Public Safety Act would be used only against criminals and smugglers. "I don't want PSA slapped on 50-year-old or 20-year-old youth," she said.
The Chief Minister said it's time to see every one differently. "You can't treat an elderly person and a habitual stone thrower equally. Similarly, you need to differentiate between militants and their family members. Everybody can't be given same treatment," she said addressing the new recruits.
Mehbooba said if peace returns, laws like Armed Force Special Powers Act (AFSPA) can be done away with in a phased manner. "After people, a huge responsibility lies on the shoulders of police in ensuring peace. I am proud of police officers who visit encounter sites along with the parents of the militants, asking hiding militants to surrender," she said.
She said none other than the Prime Minister Modi would understand the need of promoting honest and credible people from lower ranks to upper ranks. "I too have evolved from the grassroots level," she said.
Mehbooba said that once peace prevails in Kashmir, the State would act as a "bridge of peace" between India and Pakistan.