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Don’t be misled: Mehbooba’s appeal to agitating youth

Mehbooba Mufti addressing party workers

Srinagar : Amid continued turbulence that has rocked Kashmir valley for the last 38 days, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today made an emotional appeal to agitating youth not to be misled by vested interests who want to keep the valley burning and maintained that dialogue is the only way to resolve issues.

In her maiden Independence Day address as Chief Minister, Mehbooba cautioned that Kashmir should not be allowed to become another Syria or Afghanistan where there is instability and absence of safety of life.

She urged the people to give her time so that she could work on the plans and programmes she had charted for peace and progress of the state and that they should not be misled by false propaganda about attempts to erode the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

She blamed the successive central leaderships, starting from Jawaharlal Nehru, for the problems of Kashmir and hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the issues, completing the process started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Speaking in the backdrop of over month-long unrest in the valley triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, she underlined that any remedy could be found only through dialogue in the “great” Indian democracy.

With regard to protests over Wani’s killing in a gunbattle on July 8, Mehbooba said, “it is not that an encounter has happened in Kashmir for the first time… Children should not be indulging in agitation. They should be going to schools and colleges. It is not for children to solve big issues… Parents should also ensure that their children do not go out where their lives could be in danger.”

She said “vested interests” were misleading the youth and making them a “shield” to pursue their nefarious designs, while their own kids are tucked away in safety.

“I will not talk about the separatists but about the middlemen for whom it (stone pelting) is a business. Find out where their children are while innocent kids are being used for protests,” she said.

Noting that the current unrest had taken a toll on education in the valley, she asked, “What will I do with the IITs, IIMs, Law college and five medical colleges when those who had to study there have been blinded. Who is responsbile for it?”

Mehbooba said while she felt pained over the injuries and casualties among civilians, she felt equally bad for security personnel who also have been wounded in equal number just because they exercised maximum restraint.

They security forces have come to the valley from far off places like Bihar and Karnataka leaving their children and families behind just to perform their duties, she said.

At the same time, she said, “Wherever I feel anyone from forces has violated the directions for maximum restrain, action will be taken. This is not a mere statement. It will be done and you will be told about it.”

“Gun will not solve the problem. Gun has not solved any issue,” Mehbooba said, adding there is no way other than the dialogue to resolve problems and address grievances.

Emphasising that dialogue is the only way to resolve issues, she expressed hope that Modi-led government at the Centre will take steps for addressing the political, social and econmomic issues confronting the state by initiating dialogue with all stakeholders in the state.

“…The Kashmir situation was discussed in both Houses of Parliament… I am hopeful that 2008 and 2010 will not be repeated.     This time, actually, Jammu and Kashmir’s political, social and economic issues will be addressed. Dialogue should be held with everyone,” she said.

“People of Jammu and Kashmir are not bad, nor is India bad. Somewhere mistakes were made with regard to elections. The leadership of the country — from Jawahar Lal Nehru till date — and the parties, it is their mistake,” she said.

The Chief Minister said she too had a grievance at the way Kashmir issue has been handled over the years.

“I also have grievances. People of Jammu and Kashmir joined with such a big country, not considering the religion, and preferred a democracy. Why has our democracy remained confined to casting votes?

“The biggest part of democracy is dialogue. We have resolved so many issues but why have we failed to take forward the dialogue process here? Where have made a mistake?

“Why did it take till 2002 for the (fair) election system to reach Kashmir? Why did our system and leadership here and in Delhi in 1987 elections usurp the rights of those people (now separatists) who could have become MLAs, Ministers or Chief Minister? They wanted to take oath of Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir along with the Constitution of the country. There is no fault of people of J&K in it,” she said.

Mehbooba said the separatists were then looking for alternatives to National Conference and Congress but “it was not allowed to happen by the leaders here and there (Delhi)”.

The Chief Minister said she did not believe that there was any trust deficit between people of Jammu and Kashmir and people from rest of the country.

“If there is trust deficit, it is between the leaders of the state and the leadership of the country. There can be no quarrel between the people of J&K and people of the country.

“If we did not trust the people of the country, then we would not send our children there for work and studies when the situation turned bad here,” she said.

“It is now our duty that we take our people out of the bloody stream with dignity,” she added.

Invoking her late father and former Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed repeatedly, Mehboboa said, “We joined hands with BJP whose people (supporters) did not want it to join hands with PDP in the same way as Kashmiris did not want PDP to to go with the BJP.

“But keeping the in view the delicacy of the moment and your problems and future of children, he (sayeed) joined hands with a party which had two-third majority (in Lok Sabha) with the hope that the task left incomplete by Atal Behari Vajpayee will be completed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” she said.

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