By Shafat Mir
Kokernag (Anantnag): Canvassing for her brother Tassaduq Mufti in the Anantnag Lok Sabha constituency, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti addressed a rally in Kokernag on Tuesday in which she said that before her party came into politics, keeping a beard was considered as a crime in Kashmir.
“At the time of creation of the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party), even keeping a beard was sort of a crime. After we formed our first coalition government, on certain conditions, with the Congress, an era of peace and change came to the Valley. Roads were thrown open across divided Kashmir, the Mughal Road was restored, and many youth got jobs as Rehber e Taleem teachers in villages”, Mehbooba said at the rally.
She reminded people of the time when they felt scared of going near army camps. “Don’t you remember how we brought an end to the harassment our youth and men had to face when the forces would de-board them from their vehicles and make them walk with their hands up? I never knew that our youth would pelt stones on those very army camps which used to be a nightmare for them. The stone-pelting on these camps was unfortunately retaliated with bullets, which resulted in the deaths of scores of youth. I beg my people to kindly help me in restoring peace in the Valley,” Mehbooba said.
She said that violence was no way to solve any issue and it was only filling graveyards with the bodies of common people, policemen and security forces’ personnel. “As I was heading towards this venue, I received a message about the Chadoora encounter. There was a time when there were thousands of militants present in this Valley. What did they achieve? It only filled our graveyards. We have given strict orders to the police to convince rebels to surrender. Even the holed-up youth have repeatedly been asked by police to give up, but they didn’t listen,” Mehbooba said.
Defending the decision of forming an alliance with the BJP, Mehbooba said it was in the best interest of the people of the state. “After the 2014 poll results, the NC and Congress were ready to give unconditional support to any party for the formation of government. But what did Kashmiris achieve earlier from the Indira-Sheikh accord, the Rajiv-Farooq Accord, and the recent Rahul-Omar accord? They lacked a common minimum programme. For the betterment of people, Mufti sahib took a decision which could bind the people of both the regions of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
When asked about the possibility of resumption of talks with the Hurriyat, Mehbooba said, “I welcome the statement of the Home Minister (Rajnath Singh). During the unrest, too, a team had arrived from Delhi but the Hurriyat leaders declined to talk at that time. I hope this time they will respond positively.”
On the civilian killings at Chadoora on Tuesday, Mehbooba said, “It is the common man in Kashmir who has to think about this. The years-long militancy has only added to violence and has claimed the lives of thousands of militants, civilians and troops. Violence is no answer to any problem. All issues can only be solved by dialogue.”
Mehbooba was accompanied by her brother Tasadduq, Kokernag MLA Abdur Rahim Rather, party spokesperson Dr Mehboob Beg, and several other local leaders at the rally.