Jammu: Reacting sharply to the remarks of opposition leader Omar Abdullah, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Friday that she “would go to hell thousand times if Kashmir is changed into heaven and future generations live in peace”.
Referring in the assembly to the ruling coalition between the People’s Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Abdullah had earlier remarked to the Chief Minister, “Save yourself from the BJP’s hellfire.”
Defending the coalition, the CM said the BJP is the single largest party with the biggest-ever assembly mandate in the country.
Stressing that the party was given a mandate by the people in Jammu, Mehbooba said that the BJP legislators were elected by the people and insulting the BJP leaders was unacceptable as it was against democratic principles.
The Chief Minister reiterated that the current situation was a cause for concern but added that the Jammu and Kashmir accession was final and irrevocable.
“The decision taken under the leadership of late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah on the state’s accession with the union of India is final and irrevocable,” she said,
“We have to work for strengthening the decision taken by the popular leader like Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah. The separatist leaders have taken a different position, and I don’t say that they have no role. Separatists have a role, but we have to explain the fruitfulness of the accession with India to the people in the state.”
Defending the government’s position, the chief minister said on the floor of assembly that the centre and state government were working together on decisions concerning law enforcement and crowd-control policing.
Claiming that it was the state government which decided to grant amnesty to stone pelters in 2017, Mehbooba said the leaders in New Delhi followed her policy on the issue.
“Dineshwar Sharma, who is talking about granting amnesty to the stone pelters, now means that centre and state governments are taking decisions in agreement with each other,” Mehbooba said.
The CM said the government was reviewing the cases of all stone pelters arrested in 2008, 2010 and 2016, adding that the review committees constituted for the purpose will be deciding who will be released.
The chief minister further said that she herself does not seek resolution of the Kashmir issue outside the Indian constitution but within the Indian constitution.
“I tell you with authority that the Indian constitution is flexible enough to accommodate and adjust the wishes and aspirations of the people of all the three regions of the state,” Mehbooba said.
“As far as the relations with Pakistan in relation with Kashmir are concerned, history is witness to the fact that even after waging three wars and the Kargil conflict, India and Pakistan were forced to come to the negotiating table. The Shimla agreement, the Lahore declaration and the Agra summit are testimony to the fact that wars take India-Pakistan nowhere but dialogue brings them closer to peace and normalcy,” she said.
The Chief Minister asserted that opening cross-LoC travel and trade routes between the divided parts of Jammu and Kashmir was the only resolution to the Kashmir problem.
She further said that it was up to Pakistan and the central government in Delhi to decide whether they want to settle the issue within or outside the Indian constitution.
“We in the Jammu and Kashmir government stress the central government to persuade Pakistan for opening up of trade and travel routes between all the divided parts of Jammu and Kashmir,” Mehbooba said.
Referring to Pakistan, she said that even America was not able to change the important strategic position of Pakistan in South Asia, adding that the same strategic position is occupied by Jammu and Kashmir which has strategic position in South Asia and is the gateway to central Asia.
The chief minister further said that state, with its rich resources and hydropower potential, was the biggest resource which can lead to economic transformation in South Asia.
Coming down heavily on pro-freedom groups, the Chief Minister questioned as to why they were using the Masjid for political purposes. She questioned pro-freedom groups as to what they will achieve by exhorting people “Udhar chalo, idhar chalo”, adding that they were pushing youth to violence, leading to their deaths.
“Some time, somehow, somewhere they (the separatists) have to explain how long they can continue to drive youth to violent paths. In the end, dialogue is the only option,” she said.
The Chief Minister said the government is exercising maximum restraint and pellet guns are being used as a last resort.
“Is the situation in Kashmir in the aftermath of Shopian killings conducive to withdrawal of AFSPA and no use of pellet guns?” she said in response to the attention notice.
The Chief Minister said that the army was an institution comprised of a disciplined force.
“Some army men were few years back found involved in land grabbing, but that does not mean all the people working in army are land grabbers,” Mehbooba said.
“No two FIRs have been filed in Shopian army firing case. The only FIR filed so far is the one registered by police, and army has given only its version but not filed a counter FIR. Investigation will be transparent, and the guilty would be sternly punished.”
She further said that police was the most credible and powerful law-enforcing institution in the country. Mehbooba said police was bravely facing the challenges on the security front in Jammu and Kashmir.
She assured that the investigation into the killing of the minor girl in Kathua will be done properly.
“The case has been handed over to the crime branch, and fast-track investigation will be ensured at all costs. Those found guilty will be sternly punished. I was equally pained by the shameful incident that took away the life of an innocent minor girl and her chastity,” Mehbooba said.
She said that the meetings of District Development Boards are being held as usual and public darbars are being held by the government regularly.
“I assure that all MLAs will be taken on board in developmental programmes and appeal them to join public darbars and district development board meetings. The recruitments in police have been most transparent. The recent selections are testimony to this fact,” she said.
As far as appointments of SPOs are concerned, it is for the first time that minimum qualification and age has been sent for the appointment of SPOs, she noted.
“The previous governments used to appoint even minors, old-aged persons, illiterates and middle-pass aspirants as SPOs,” she said.
Expressing concern over the unprecedented rise in drug trafficking, the Chief Minister said “The drug trafficking has spread more vigorously in Jammu division and less in Kashmir Valley. I have instructed the police to book the drug peddlers under PSA and ensure that they don’t come out from jails for years together.”
Reiterating her commitment on the Kashmir Public Service (KPS) cadre review, she said “The decision taken by the government is being forcefully implemented to ensure that KPS officers don’t feel discriminated.