War no option, says CM Mehbooba

Chairing the first party meeting after the July 8 killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani that has led to the ongoing uprising in Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Saturday told the party ministers and members that the “disturbance” had been “planned” against the Peoples Democratic Party even as she defended the use of pellet guns as last resort by the security forces who, she said, were showing maximum restraint.
War no option, says CM Mehbooba
GK Photo

Chairing the first party meeting after the July 8 killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani that has led to the ongoing uprising in Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Saturday told the party ministers and members that the "disturbance" had been "planned" against the Peoples Democratic Party even as she defended the use of pellet guns as last resort by the security forces who, she said, were showing maximum restraint.

Amid the war hysteria between India and Pakistan and with New Delhi talking about retaliation post the killing of 18 army men in militant attack in Uri, Mehbooba said war wasn't an option.

In the General Council meeting of the party at her Gupkar residence, attended by party minister, legislators and senior leaders, Mehbooba, who is also Party President, spoke at length on the alliance, the programs and policies of her late father before she focused on the prevailing situation in Kashmir over the past more than 12 weeks.

The Government, Mehbooba said, hadn't anticipated that the situation would "deteriorate like this" while talking about Burhan's killing and participation of tens of thousands of people in his funeral prayers.

"Burhan Wani belonged to Tral but there was no incident of stone pelting in Tral and there were no clashes on the day he (Burhan) got killed," a PDP leader quoted Mehbooba telling. "It all started on the second day and if there had to be a reaction or killings it should have happened in Tral. This shows that the unrest was planned against PDP."

The PDP led State Government has come under severe criticism from opposition and separatists for excessive use of forces by the paramilitary CRPF, Police and Army in dealing with the uprising in which 88 people have lost their lives and over 13000 have got injured in forces' action.

The excessive use of pellet guns, which fire small metallic balls with high velocity, have resulted in thousands of people getting injuries with over 820 persons getting hit by pellets in their eyes and facing permanent or partial blindness.

However during the meeting that started at 11 a.m. and lasted for four and a half hours, Mehbooba defended the use of pellet guns by the forces saying the casualties would have been on the higher side in case police and CRPF were asked to stop the use of pellet guns which would have left them with using the bullets.

The pellet guns, Mehbooba told the meeting, was the last resort of force with the forces and the "unfortunate fatalities resulting from the firing of the pellets from close range shows that the forces would have shown restraint till last moment."

Mehbooba talked about the "unwarranted criticism" her government was being subjected to despite the fact that she was in the office for a few months before the uprising started in Kashmir. Mehbooba had taken over as the Chief of the PDP-BJP coalition on April 4 this year after her father and former Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed died in January.

Despite unrest, she said, her government remained "functional" and ensure that hospitals don't face crisis and that there was no shortage of essentials including ration.

Underlining the need for dialogue for resolving Kashmir, Mehbooba said her party was against war with Pakistan. "We are against war with Pakistan as wars don't resolve issue," said Mehbooba as the voices in New Delhi are growing louder for retaliating over the Uri killings.

Post the Uri killings, the relations between the India and Pakistan have deteriorated and there is a growing opinion in both countries that in case of any provocation from other side the country should be prepared for full fledged offensive.

At the same time, however, Mehbooba said: "While we are interested in dialogue they (Pakistan) are carrying out military drills on their motorways."

Mehbooba said while PDP and its alliance partner BJP were committed to the implementation of `Agenda of the Alliance`, however, a congenial atmosphere needed to be created within and around the State for its implementation while asserting that the Government had started to "deliver" on the agenda citing negotiations on power projects and transfer of land under army to state at different places.

She said the development process in Kashmir has suffered a setback as a result of the prevailing situation and it has hit different sectors.

She said business and industry have suffered in the prevailing situation and people have been rendered jobless. However she said the Government would provide succor in the revival of economy.

The Chief Minister reprimanded her ministers, "barring a few", for not cooperating with the party legislators and members and ignoring the grievances of people who visit them.

She took a note of the ministers' failure to move out to district headquarters and directed them to visit districts and constituencies, saying the situation had started to improve and the government would make the arrangements for their security.

Another senior party of the leader said the meeting also reviewed the present situation in Kashmir and got the feedback from the leaders about the situation which has "started to improve".  At least 14 party leaders including Muzaffar Husaain Baig, Mehbooba Baig, Muhammad Rafi Mir, Choudhary Zulfikar, Nizam-ud-Din Bhat and Vikram Aditya Singh also spoke during the meeting.

There was a "unanimous opinion" among the party members that the unrest in Kashmir was a "situation created in which all the forces had combined against the PDP."

In his speech, Baig gave an overview of the situation and urged the party members to strengthen the hands of Chief Minister. He said resolution of Kashmir was a must to ensure sustainable peace and development in the state.

Sources said the resignation of former PDP MP Tariq Hameed Karra was also raised by some party leaders who said that "members come and go."

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