Budget session: Mehbooba takes on opposition, says will support Pandits

By A. Aalim Ahmad
Srinagar: Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said in the legislative council on Tuesday that allying with the BJP had been as difficult a decision as Sheikh Abdullah’s choosing India over Pakistan. She said that if her party had allied with the Congress or the National Conference, it would have been the same rejection of popular mandate as happened in 1987.
“The central government at that time (in 1987) was ill advised that if Muslim United Front candidates were declared elected, Kashmir would secede from India. But the most they could have bagged was 25 seats. That would have been the mandate of the people of Kashmir. But this mandate was not respected and the result is that we continue to dig mass graves and provide firewood to pyres,” the chief minister said at the end of the motion of thanks for the Governor’s address.


Kashmir division has highest number of jobless youth

  • Total number of unemployed youth registered with employment exchanges in JK: 1,11,077

  • Kashmir division highest with 67,147 unemployed youth

  • 20,399 graduates, 16,431 post-graduates, 15,944 class 10 pass and 1,521 class 12 pass, 95 illiterates without jobs

  • Kulgam tops the list with 16,405 unemployed, Kishtwar least with 1,195

  • Place with least number of jobless youth: Leh. 2,376 youths are jobless

  • Jobless in Jammu: 43,930; Jammu city tops the list with 12,354

Mufti admitted that her party campaigned against the BJP for the assembly elections but unlike the NC’s past alliances with the BJP, the PDP made the alliance on the basis of documented agreements.
Mufti praised prime minister Narendra Modi for having the mandate and the courage to take bold decisions. “Manmohan Singh wanted to go to Pakistan for ten years. His ancestral village is also there but he couldn’t go. Narendra Modi went directly, sipped tea there, and attended the marriage of Nawaz Sharif’s granddaughter,” she said.
Remembering her father, Mufti said that all through her life she had tried to make him happy. “He wanted me to be a doctor but I wasted time in the wilderness,” she said, adding that she took over as chief minister only to fulfill the dream of her father and accomplish “his mission”.
She said the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ would be implemented in letter and spirit. “I am confident that if we succeed in implementing the Agenda of Alliance, it will take care of most of the problems facing J&K, problems that it has faced for decades: political uncertainty, economic deprivation, development deficit, unfulfilled aspirations, and mounting unemployment,” Mufti said.
She accused the opposition National Conference of bartering the resources of Jammu and Kashmir for power. “When Omar sahab became the external affairs minister, what was his agenda? You joined hands with the BJP and what did you get in return? You gave away our power projects for your own chair,” she said.
The chief minister blamed separatist leaders for “encouraging” stone pelting on Fridays. “This brand of Islam is not acceptable to Kashmiri people. Who wants to go to mosque on Friday to be eventually hit by a stone that could take one’s life?” she asked.
Mufti said that her “cat and pigeon” remark had been blown out of context. “My remarks were distorted. Kashmiri Muslims are fed up with violence. Kashmiri Pandits are not afraid of their neighbours. They are afraid of those who perpetrated Wandhama massacre and killed leaders like Abdul Gani Lone and Mirwaiz Mohammad Farooq,” she said.
She justified the rehabilitation of Pandits in transit colonies. “Should we not provide a sense of security to Pandits? We have to make them comfortable. Unless they get confidence to go to their native places, they have to be provided proper residences in transit camps, which will be inclusive, with 50 percent reservation for migrants of other faiths. To link these issues with Article 370 is completely misplaced,” she said.
On the issue of Sainik Colony, she said that the first sainik colony was built in 1964 in Samba and was meant for state subjects. “Sheikh Abdullah inaugurated the colony. In March 2011, a meeting of the Rajya Sainik Board took place, followed by more meetings in 2012. In 2014, the meeting was attended by Omar Abdullah. Every meeting discussed that land should be provided but no decision was taken. In my tenure also, on April 21, a meeting was convened in which there was again a call for land. The divisional commissioner communicated to the board on May 18 that no suitable land has been identified. How can you say that there is confusion on the issue?” she said.
Mufti said that the New Industrial Policy will be revised to uphold the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir. “Regarding the issue of Smart Cities, there is a process which is being followed. Earlier, there was provision for only one city from J&K. After our intervention, both cities have been approved. If they are not approved, I will sit on the opposition benches,” she said.