Srinagar: Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday refused to apologise to the people of Kashmir and instead counselled Pakistan to refrain from “interfering in India’s internal matters”. He vowed his country’s commitment to not tolerate “terrorism” and refused to make any commitment on initiating dialogue with any leader until the situation returned to normal in the region.
Singh spoke to media persons at Technical Airport here after the conclusion of his two-day visit to the Valley. He had arrived to oversee the situation that emerged after the killing of Burhan Wani on July 8, which led to an unprecedented public uprising. The extensive use of force to quell the uprising has killed 50 civilians, including three women, and injured more than 2,000 persons, scores of them on the verge of permanent disabilities.
Singh said that whatever has happened in Kashmir is sorrowful. “At a time when I am meeting you, I am really concerned about the situation. The prime minister is also concerned,” he said. “I express solidarity with the families of people who lost their lives,” he said.
Singh rejected any third-party intervention for the resolution of issues related to Kashmir and appealed to the people to help in restoration of peace and normalcy. He said the issues of conflict could be resolved through mutual dialogue.
“There is no need to involve any third power to bring the situation in Kashmir on rails,” he said, adding that issues of disagreement and conflict can be resolved through dialogue. “Every issue can be resolved after sitting together and talking mutually,” he said.
Singh said that during his stay in Srinagar he met with more than 30 delegations and with chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and her cabinet colleagues. “Whoever I met, I appealed to them to help in restoration of normalcy. I appeal to the people of entire Kashmir to come forward for betterment of situation. We welcome constructive suggestions,” he said.
Singh said the Government of India was eager to develop “emotional relationship” with Kashmir rather than “need-based relationship”.
“I have directed the security forces to exercise utmost restraint while dealing with the law and order situation,” he said.
The home minister said his government will not tolerate terrorism. “I want to make it clear that Government of India will not tolerate terrorism,” he said.
Referring to the Pakistan government’s operation against militants in Lal Masjid, Rajnath Singh said that Pakistan was itself a victim of terrorism. “You take action against the militants in Lal Masjid but appeal to Kashmiri youngsters to take up arms. This contradiction must stop,” he said.
“Pakistan’s role is not clear and correct. Pakistan must change its attitude and stop interfering in India’s internal matters,” he said.
He said that Kashmir can be restored as “paradise on earth” and Kashmiriyat is equal to humanity.
He said that concrete measures would be taken to bring back normalcy in Kashmir. “Every effort will be taken in the future in consultation with the state government, once the normalcy is restored,” he said.
He said efforts to engage youngsters would be taken up, including the process of recruitment that is already going on. He said the Government of India has taken some decisions, which are in the knowledge of the chief minister. “I don’t want to get into details (on these measures). The chief minister knows them all,” he said.
He said the solution to Kashmir would not come in two, three, four or ten days but would take its own time.
Singh assured all support to facilitate treatment of injured Kashmiri children at AIIMS in Delhi. He said 2,228 policemen, 1,100 CRPF personnel, and 2,259 civilians have been injured since the uprising began on July 8.
“I urge the youngsters to not indulge in stone-pelting and also ask the security forces to avoid the use of pellet guns,” he said.
The minister said that 6 injured persons have been taken to AIIMS in New Delhi for treatment and if more patients are required to be treated in Delhi, the government would make necessary arrangements. “If there is a large number of patients and a plane is required to airlift them, we will make the arrangements for that,” he said.
Singh mentioned that health minister JP Nadda has been asked to appoint a nodal officer to coordinate with the patients in New Delhi.
During his two-day visit, Singh said, he met a cross-section of people. He said he held extensive discussions with Governor NN Vohra and chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and her cabinet. He was also briefed by central and state security agencies about the security situation in Kashmir. For the last leg of his visit, he flew to Anantnag.
Mehbooba Mufti was not present at Singh’s press conference. Her party’s senior leader and law minister AR Veeri flanked the home minister along with deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh.