Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, on Monday asked the Centre not to look at all Kashmiris through the security prism and said that the majority of the people in the Valley are peace-loving and do not like violence.
“I want to make an appeal to the Centre that do not see all the people of Kashmir with same eye. They (Kashmiris) are not stone-pelters but peace loving people. They want to open their shops, they want to send their wards to school, they want to come out of the fear-psychosis they have been forced into,” she said. She added, “I appeal to the Centre to take care of this majority of the peace-loving people in Kashmir and reach out to them. They are our own people and they are in problem.”
Mufti was speaking at a function in winter capital Jammu where Union Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, had on Sunday said that the government will not yield to stone-pelting mobs in Kashmir but deal firmly with them. He had also said that there will be no compromise on the security and integrity of the country and no compromise with the people who indulge in violence. To make the government’s resolve not to budge on the issue more obvious, he said, “They (stone-pelters) are not satyagrahis but aggressors. If a police post manned by 10 police personal is attacked by 2,000 stone-pelters, it is an attack, but some people do not realise it."
The Chief Minister said that only a handful of people opposed to peace are inciting youth to violence in the Valley. Without mentioning anyone by name, she said the people who do not want peace in Kashmir are inviting youths to violence for their vested interests. She reiterated that violence was no means to achieve anything. "Guns went into Afghanistan, Syria and Russia. Was anything achieved there by using those guns?” she asked adding “Violence brings only destruction and nothing else."
She said that those behind the ongoing turmoil in the Valley started trouble in 2008 and then again in 2010 following a fake encounter in which three locals were killed in the Macheal sector along the Line of Control (LoC). “After I took over, they tried to start trouble on the pretext of an alleged rape incident in Handwara (Kupwara district) but failed. They then tried to raise the issues of separate colonies for former soldiers and Kashmiri Pandits but failed again,” she said.
She said that three militants including Burhan Muzaffar Wani were killed in a gun battle on July 8 and it was nothing new as encounters and killing of militants was going on in Kashmir since the eruption of militancy in early 1990s. “But a section of people got an opportunity to rake up the issue and put peaceful Kashmir on boil,” she said adding that it was tragic to note that not only have scores of youth been killed but the mayhem has also forced thousands of people to flee Kashmir to safeguard the future of their children.
The Chief Minister said that the vast majority of people in Kashmir is peace loving and wants "dignity and development". She also said that certain quarters are not happy with the PDP-BJP coalition in the State and they too have been out to unsettle the alliance.
She, however, called for reaching out to the people of Jammu and Kashmir through substantive political and economic measures to address anger and alienation and find a lasting solution to the problems confronting the State. “The prevailing painful situation in Kashmir necessitates reaching out to all shades of the political opinion in the State and initiating substantive political and economic measures to revive and consolidate the peace and resolution process,” she said.
The Chief Minister said that the political leadership in New Delhi and within the State must jointly work towards initiating the confidence building measures to respond to the people’s innermost yearning for peace with dignity. “The renewed trust people of the State have time and again reposed in the democratic institutions, offers an opportunity to work through peaceful and reconciliatory means towards addressing all the dimensions of the Kashmir issue in a manner that balances and promotes enduring political and economic stability in the State,” she said and added that her government visualizes a space of dignity, opportunity and prosperity for the peace-loving people of Jammu and Kashmir.
Reiterating that violence in any form only brings miseries to the people and is not a means to seek resolution of problems, Mufti said that solution can only be found through democratic and political means involving engagement and dialogue. “Time has come for the State’s political leadership, cutting across the divide, to work towards retrieving the people of Jammu and Kashmir, with honuor and dignity, from the political uncertainties they are engulfed in for the past seven decades,” she said. “Neither the stones nor the guns either in hands of the militants or the in the hands of security forces would enable a peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem,” she asserted.
The Chief Minister said the people of the State, irrespective of their age, gender, status or the political affiliation, have been suffering the disastrous consequences of the turmoil and they have to be retrieved from this quagmire, sooner the better. She said at the same time, the people shall also have to give peace and reconciliation process a chance to take shape as had happened between 2002 and 2003.
“Our children are today getting killed or maimed, our social fabric is slipping into disorder, economy is in shambles, educational sector has suffered immensely, tourism inflow is zero, shopkeepers are not able to do business, industrial units are shut, development process has come to a halt and people are feeling suffocated. We shall have to ponder over how long we are going to allow this self destruction to continue?” she said. She added, “We shall have to reinforce our resolve to work through peaceful means and through public participation towards resolution of the problems and restoration of peace in the State.”
Mufti further said that majority of the people in all the regions of the State want to live in peace and harmony and that despite attempts being made by certain quarters to vitiate the atmosphere on communal lines, the people both in the Valley and Jammu do not allow the “nefarious designs” of such disruptive elements to take shape. “I appreciate and salute the people of all the regions for not allowing the situation to be communalised by such diabolic elements,” she said, seeking cooperation of people in maintaining peace and normalcy in the State....