Says AFSPA revocation depends on ‘forces success in restoring peace’; announces ex-gratia for 2008 agitation victims’ kin
Jammu: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Monday that the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) would depend on the security establishment’s ‘success in restoring peace’ in Kashmir.
Mehbooba while replying on motion of thanks on Governor’s address in the Legislative Council, said the controversial law that gives sweeping powers to armed forces in J&K, would be revoked after the forces succeed in restoring peace in Kashmir and curbing infiltration from across the border.
“Revocation of AFSPA depends on the competence of security forces. Their success in maintaining peace and curbing infiltrations will pave way for revocation of AFSPA,” Mehbooba told the House.
She said a peaceful democratic set up would pave the way for reducing the presence of the forces.
The 57-year-old Mehbooba said the state’s historic and geographic relationship with Pakistan could not be changed. She said the government of India has to manage the external dimension of the Kashmir issue by holding a dialogue with Pakistan.
“In spite of provocations, Atal Behari Vajpayee started a dialogue with Pakistan. New Delhi should follow him,” she said adding, “Vajpayee approached Parvez Musharraf to initiate a peaceful dialogue between the two.”
The BJP-led government has to follow the former NDA prime minister in finding a solution to the issue, she said.
“Our Prime Minister also approached Pakistan to start a peaceful dialogue process. He visited Lahore but days later Pathankot attack occurred. India is a democratic country and I hope the process will be started again,” Mehbooba said.
She said Pakistan has to be reminded of the Shimla agreement and Lahore declaration that led to a dip militancy.
“Violence between the two countries has a direct impact on the state especially border areas,” she added.
On PDP-BJP coalition
She said her late father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed devoted his life in developing a proper democratic set up in the state for the welfare of the people. She said her father was inspired by Indian democracy after his return from Aligarh Muslim University and he was against the “plebiscite and separatism” and those who were demanding a separate state.
She said people started to believe in democracy after the PDP assumed power first time in 2002.
Mehbooba said her father would take tough decisions and joining hands with the BJP was one such decision.
“Mufti sahib became part of Congress when people associated with the party were treated as untouchables. Those days people didn’t even visit Congress members for expressing condolence, apprehending social boycott,” she said.
Agenda for Alliance
Mehbooba said the governance document between the PDP and BJP was the reflection of the report of a Working Group constituted during the UPA government.
“Mufti sahib wanted to open routes on LoC and wanted to take the state out of the uncertainty. We want a proper dialogue process and to create an atmosphere for this which we can’t do alone. We have to jointly work on internal dimensions of the state,” she said.
Ex-gratia to kin of 2016 uprising and 2008 Amarnath land row
Mehbooba said the government would also compensate the victim families of 2008 Amarnath land row besides the kin of 2016 uprising victims.
Compensation would be given to the kin of an alleged spy Chamail Singh of Jammu, who died in custody in Pakistan, she added.
Mehbooba pointed out that the majority of the youth who throw stones “hail from those families whose members have fallen prey to bullets in the past.”
“We have to address this youth group as they have grown up with the conflict in their minds,” she said.
By studying in different states of India, Kashmiri students have displayed their trust in the country, she said.
“This generation has developed an ideology wherein they accept youth (militants) slinging guns on their shoulders as celebrities but ignore those who excelled in life. Our kids from Bandipora excelled in sports. Two Ladakhi girls climbed Mount Everest and one girl played a leading role in Dangal movie. It reflects the real talent,” she added.
Mehbooba announced that the government was reviewing cases of 138 persons and other 370 persons booked under draconian law Public Safety Act.
“We have decided not to re-arrest a person in whose favour the court has quashed the detention. But we call their parents into confidence and counsel the youth to shun violence,” she said.
Training her guns on pro-freedom groups for not holding talks with the delegation from India, who had visited Kashmir during the uprising, she said that “a wrong message went out.”
On Article 370
She said Article 370 has remained only in papers and has lost its soul.
She said that participation of Muslims in Pandit marriages, “saving of Yatra camp from stone throwers by Kashmiri women and rescuing yatris in road accidents reflects the soul of Article 370.”
Lauding the people of Jammu for maintaining communal harmony and brotherhood, she said, “I found the lost soul of Article 370 in Jammu.”
On the return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley, she said some “vested interests” are against their return.
“They claim their (Pandits’) return will change the demography of the Valley. How can they change the demography of the state?”
“Looking at the harmony displayed by the people of Jammu, I feel blessed. The saying of Azaan in the mosques, ringing of temple bells sounds of Gurbani in the Gurdwaras is the testimony of Article 370.”