SRINAGAR: Hardline Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has stoked a controversy by paying tributes to two militants who were killed in an encounter in Tral area of Kashmir, in which an army commander and a policeman died.
He said that "due to the rigid and stubborn approach of the Indian government, the youths are opting for gun instead of pen and this policy is costing further precious human lives in the region," according to a Hurriyat statement.
Colonel M N Rai and a policeman were killed in the gunbattle with two local militants in Tral area of Pulwama district on Tuesday.
Geelani said, "...Sooner or later India has to accept the ground realities regarding Kashmir."
Meanwhile, asked to comment on Geelani's remarks, BJP state unit chief Jugal Kishore Sharma in Jammu evaded a direct reply and said, "The army is doing a great service to the nation."
Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh also refused to comment on the issue.
Reacting to Geelani's remarks, Harsh Dev Singh, senior leader of the National Panthers Party, said, "People like Geelani are promoting terrorism in the country and the government should take note of such statements."