Bats for reopening routes to Central Asia; there is a sense of helplessness but not hopelessness in the people of her state
Panaji: Speaking during an interactive session with the audience at the India Ideas Conclave-2017 here Friday night, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that her state needs a “healing touch” rather than a military policy focused on eliminating militants.
“Those in the army and other security forces feel that they have done their job to a great extent. Now, there is a need for a healing touch policy for the political process to take over,” Mufti said.
“They (security forces) have created a conducive atmosphere. There is a general feeling among the police and security forces that they are doing their job, but they alone cannot do it,” Mufti said while responding to a question about the possibility of adopting a soft approach towards separatist elements in the Valley.
“We need to have a healing touch policy. It does not mean (going) soft. If tomorrow, the court lets (separatist leader) Masarat Alam go, in a democracy, what can you do? If he (Alam) goes to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court says there is nothing against him now and that you can’t hold him back anymore, what will you do?” she said.
“Would you say no?…No, you can’t! You have these institutions. We cannot undermine these institutions for the sake of one person,” she said.
Mufti said that killing militants will not solve the problem in Kashmir. “If we kill 200 militants, 200 more will come from Pakistan. What to do?” she said, and added, “We need to do what we did during (Atal Behari) Vajpayee’s time. I am sure the situation can be turned around.”
Mufti said there was a need to change the discourse about Jammu and Kashmir. “Today, the discourse is about militancy, fighting, crackdowns. We need to change that discourse and that is where the whole country has to help us. It is not that you will give us a pill and change everything overnight. I remember when I was young, people used to say ‘Mufti saab bahut achhe hai, par Hindustani hai’ (Mufti saab is good, but he is an Indian),” she recalled, referring to her late father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
“For me, India was Indira (Gandhi). For me, India was Taj Mahal…it was the movies we used to watch. There are lakhs of people like me (in Jammu and Kashmir) who understand India and there are those, in the minority, who do not believe in it,” she said.
Mufti said there were many people in the Valley who were caught in a (difficult) situation. “The quicker we get out of this situation, you will not need to teach nationalism to Kashmiris, but in fact, they will teach you (nationalism),” she said.
She said there was a sense of helplessness but not hopelessness in the minds of people in her state.
“Idea of India is not separate from idea of Jammu and Kashmir, because it is the oneness between both. We have had problems in Kashmir for last so many years. We have the baggage of history but to me, having seen Jammu and Kashmir so closely for so many years, there is (a sense of) helplessness but not hopelessness,” she said.
She said that Jammu and Kashmir at present is under siege with several uncertainties plaguing the life of the people. “There is mental siege, emotional siege, economic siege, Kashmir is under all kinds of siege. You never know when there will be a shutdown call followed by curfew and then there will be protest calls,” she said.
She said that “when we think of Pakistan we should not think of Kashmir. When we think of Kashmir we should not think of Pakistan, because Kashmir is ours.”
“Maybe there is a percentage of people who are pro-Pakistan, there is a percentage of people who are pro-azadi. But majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are with the idea of Kashmir as an idea within India,” the chief minister said.
She hailed the efforts by the Modi government to ease tensions with Pakistan. She claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi adopted the same policy when he visited Lahore as adopted by former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
“People keep on telling that he went uninvited. Yes he did that, but he did it for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, for the part of his body which is hurting for so many years. Unfortunately, it was followed by a terror attack,” she said.
Addressing the India Ideas Conclave-2017 here, the Chief Minister said the geographical position of Jammu and Kashmir makes it a gateway to Central Asia and this position ought to be used for opening up its people to the outside world. “By re-opening the traditional and historic routes in the state, we shall be writing a new history,” she said.
Mehbooba suggested making Jammu & Kashmir a model state with connectivity all across the Central Asian region so that it becomes a model for SAARC cooperation. “Let’s make it a model for cooperation at a bigger scale in the region,” she said.
On the problems being faced by the people of the state, she said it is the duty of every citizen of the country to come forward and help Jammu & Kashmir in coming out of these uncertainties. “People of the state ought to be given a sense of belonging because the idea of India is incomplete without idea of Jammu & Kashmir. Reconciliation is the way ahead,” she said.
The chief minister exuded confidence in the deep roots of values and ethos which the people of the state have displayed at critical times. “See how many young boys rushed to donate blood when Amarnath yatris were attacked, or who can forget that boatman who drowned himself to save a tourist. Kashmiriyat is too deep-rooted to be affected by any outside influence,” she said.
On the measures taken by her government, the chief minister said the amnesty for youth recently announced by her is aimed at giving them a chance to lead a peaceful life. She said she hoped that with the appointment of an interlocutor, the way forward for reconciliation has been laid out.
On forming the government with the BJP, she said that though PDP and BJP have ideological differences on many issues, the idea of alliance was aimed to get Jammu & Kashmir out of the present situation of uncertainty, end the regional discord in the state, and, above all, to connect the people of the state with their counterparts in the rest of the country. “The idea to go with the BJP was to get Jammu & Kashmir out of this siege,” she said.
On the return of migrant Pandit families, the chief minister said that not only the government but the entire society in Kashmir wants them back, honourably. She said her government has been taking many steps for their return home. “We are also trying to rehabilitate those Pandit families, in terms of employment and other incentives, who stayed back and did not migrate,” she said.
Mehbooba Mufti appealed to the media to play its role in bringing people and communities closer to each other. She regretted the conduct of some media houses which by their irresponsible coverage of incidents were creating more discord and acrimony among people.