SRINAGAR: Try to bring back to their homes the "local boys" who have joined militancy instead of killing them in encounters, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti urged police today amid unrest triggered by the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in a gun-battle with forces in July.
She also appealed to the police and security forces to refrain from using weapons like pellet guns while dealing with protests and instead "tolerate" stone-pelting as a "sacrifice". The Chief Minister said while the police had exhibited patience during the last three months of unrest in the Valley, there were some mistakes which warrant action.
She also underlined that "black laws" like AFSPA would be repealed from the state only when the situation improves. "We all have to work together, heal the wounds of the people here. The children here are the responsibility of God first, then our police because it is they who see them every day, everywhere," she said. "Those who have taken up arms or those who have not but are missing from their homes and want to join militancy, they are local boys.
I request the police to try to bring them back to their homes. Instead of their being killed in encounters," she added. Mehbooba, who has dealt with the unrest triggered by Wani's killing on July 8 in a tough manner, told the police, "such youth (who have taken to the gun) need hand-holding... If it is possible to bring them back, make them a part of the mainstream. Give them bats, balls and good education, instead of guns." Her remarks at the Police Commemoration Day function at Armed Police Complex in Zewan on the outskirts of Srinagar came close on the heels of a fresh video surfacing which shows a group of local militants of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit displaying weapons.
Earlier, similar videos of Wani and his associates used to surface in the Valley, before he was killed in an encounter. Urging local youth to shun violence, Mehbooba said, "When the situation improves here, we will end the black laws. For that we have to create an atmosphere first. I know that today the situation is not such, but tomorrow, a year after... we have to repeal AFSPA as we cannot keep it in force forever." While stressing that ending militancy and restoring peace were a pre-requisite for repealing AFSPA and for seeking start of dialogue process in the state, she said, "We cannot force anyone to have dialogue on gun-point, stones or by lathis."
She said only when there is a "conducive" atmosphere, she can go to Delhi with her "head held high". "How can I do it today? There is infiltration, there are encounters. We have to end militancy and create peace in Jammu and Kashmir so that we can repeal AFSPA from some areas here," she said. She said the police should deal with militants but civilians should not be troubled.