Political process has to take over now, says Mehbooba Mufti


PANAJI (GOA): Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said that the state of Jammu and Kashmir needs a “healing touch” policy for the political process to take over.

Stating that eliminating militants alone will not solve the problems of the state, she called for a change in the present discourse on militancy, fighting, crackdowns and other measures.

“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.

She was speaking during an interactive session with the audience at the ‘India Ideas Conclave 2017’, an initiative of the India Foundation, last evening.

“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 from a participant about the possibility of adopting a soft approach towards the separatist elements in the Valley.

“We need to have a healing touch policy. It does not mean (going) soft. If tomorrow, the court lets (hardline 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 asked.

“Would you say no?…No, you can’t! You have these institutions. We cannot undermine these institutions for the sake of one person because one person cannot create a havoc,” Mufti said.

She added that flushing out militants from Jammu and Kashmir would not solve the problem completely.

“If we kill 200 terrorists, 200 more will come from Pakistan, what to do?,” the PDP leader said.

“We need to do what we did during (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee’s time. I am sure the situation can be turned around,” she said, referring to the peace initiatives taken by the former prime minister with Pakistan.

Mufti said there was a need to change the discourse about Jammu and Kashmir.

“Today, the discourse is about terrorism, 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). Many people would say that. I wouldn’t understand that if he was a good person, why were they saying he was a Hindustani,” she recalled while 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 up 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.

Mehbooba also advocated opening of historic routes in the state, saying the move is a must for opening up the State to the outside world and its opportunities.

 “By re opening the traditional and historic routes in the State, we shall be writing a new history,” she added.

Mehbooba Mufti suggested making Jammu and Kashmir a model State with connectivity all across so that it becomes a model for SAARC cooperation in the region. “Let’s make it a model for cooperation at bigger scale in the region,” she said.

On the problems being faced by the people of the State, the Chief Minister said it is the duty of every citizen of the country to come forward and help Jammu and 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 and Kashmir. Reconciliation is the way ahead”, she added.

She 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 yatries were attacked or who can forget that boatman who drowned himself to save a tourist. Kashmiriyat is deep rooted to be affected by any outside influence,” she added.

Mehbooba Mufti said though both PDP and BJP have ideological differences on many issues, the idea of alliance was aimed to get Jammu and Kashmir out of the present situation of uncertainty, end the inter regional discord in the State and, above all, connect the people of the State with their counterparts in rest of the country.

“The idea to go with BJP was to get Jammu and Kashmir out of this siege,” she added. (with PTI inputs)

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