Jammu: In an apparent reference to pro-freedom leaders, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said a handful of people opposed to peace were inciting youth to violence in the Kashmir valley. At a function in Jammu, Mehbooba said these people “who do not want peace in Kashmir are inviting youths to violence for their vested interests.”
“Guns went into Afghanistan, Syria and Russia. Was anything achieved there by using those guns? Violence brings only destruction and nothing else. These people started trouble in 2008. They started trouble again in 2010 following a fake encounter in Machil. After I took over, they tried to start trouble on the pretext of Handwara (alleged rape) incident,” she said.
She said that these elements also tried to raise the issues of separate colonies for retired soldiers and Kashmiri Pandits but “failed”.
Mehbooba asserted that the predominant majority of Kashmiris were peace loving and wanted “dignity and development”.
The chief minister said the fact that students from Kashmir studying in India did not face any problems because of the unrest in Kashmir proves the fact that people in other parts of the country love Kashmiris.
She urged the Indian government to reach out to all shades of opinion, describing the prevailing situation as “painful”.
“The prevailing painful situation in Kashmir necessitates reaching out to all shades of political opinion in the state and initiating substantive political and economic measures to revive and consolidate the peace and resolution process,” Mehbooba said while addressing a public gathering after inaugurating the state’s biggest Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) at Bhagwati Nagar here. This was her first public appearance in Jammu since the unrest began in the state on July 8.
Mehbooba said that the political leadership in New Delhi and within the state must jointly work towards initiating confidence building measures. “The renewed trust that people of the state have time and again reposed in democratic institutions, offers an opportunity to work through peaceful and reconciliatory means towards addressing all the dimensions of the Kashmir issue in a manner that balances and promotes enduring political and economic stability in the state,” she said, and added that her government envisioned a space of dignity, opportunity and prosperity for the peace-loving people of Jammu & Kashmir.
“Time has come for the State’s political leadership, cutting across the divide, to work towards retrieving the people of Jammu & Kashmir, with honour and dignity, from the political uncertainties they are engulfed in for the past seven decades,” she said. Neither stones nor guns would enable a peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem, she said.
In an apparent reference to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s speech in Jammu in which he said stone-pelters were not satyagrahis but aggressors, Mehbooba urged the centre to not see all Kashmiris through the security prism. “They (Kashmiris) are not stone-pelters, they are peace loving people. They want to open their shops, they want to send their wards to school, they want to come out of the fear-psychosis they have been forced into,” she said, adding, “I appeal to the Centre to take care of those majority of the peace-loving people in Kashmir and reach out to them. They are our own people and they are in problem.”
The chief minister mentioned the killing of three militants on Sunday, saying such killings was nothing new and had been going on since the eruption of militancy in early nineties. “But a section of people got an opportunity to rake up the issue and put peaceful Kashmir on boil,” she said.
Mehbooba said that it was tragic to note that not only scores of youth had been killed in “senseless violence” but also thousands of people had been forced to flee Kashmir to safeguard the future of their children.