SRINAGAR: Hours after a delegation of opposition leaders of Jammu and Kashmir called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said Kashmiris are not stone pelters and called on central government to reach out to people of Jammu and Kashmir to placate their anger and alienation.
“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,” Mehbooba said while addressing a public gathering on sidelines of a function at Bhagwati Nagar, Jammu, winter capital of J&K, today.
She said the political leadership in New Delhi and within the State must jointly work towards initiating the confidence building measures (CBMs) to respond to people’s innermost yearning for peace with dignity. “The trust people of the State have reposed in 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”.
68 people including two policemen have been killed and thousands others injured in clashes between security force personnel and youth during ongoing protests triggered by killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in Kokernag area of South Kashmir on July 8.
Mehbooba, whose government has been accused of mishandling the situation and not reaching out to people, said violence in any form only brings miseries to the people and is not a means to seek resolution of problems.
“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 & Kashmir, with honor and dignity, from the political uncertainties they are engulfed in for the past seven decades,” she said.
57-year-old Mehbooba said neither stones nor the guns either in hands of militants or security forces would enable a peaceful solution of Kashmir problem. “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?”
Kashmir has been witnessing curfew, restrictions and shutdown since July 9 and life in Valley has remained totally crippled in last 45 days.
Urging the Centre not to see all Kashmiris through security prism, Mehbooba appealed the Modi government not to see all the people of Kashmir with same eye.
“Kashmiris are peace loving people and don’t like violence. 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 adding “I appeal Centre to take care of those majority of the peace-loving people in Kashmir and reach out to them. They are our own people and they are in problem.”
On killing of Burhan which triggered the ongoing unrest in the Valley, Mehbooba said three militants were killed in a gun battle and it was nothing new as encounters and killing of militants was going on in Kashmir since the eruption of militancy in early nineties.
“But section of people got an opportunity to rake up the issue and put peaceful Kashmir on boil. It was tragic to note that not only have got scores of youth killed in this senseless violence but it has also forced thousands of people to flee Kashmir to safeguard the future of their children,” she added.