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Mehbooba loses cool at press meet; condemns stone-pelting

Rajnath Singh And Mehbooba Mufti at press conference

Srinagar : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today lost her cool and abruptly ended a press conference being addressed by her and union Home Minister Rajnath Singh here when journalists asked questions about her role in dealing with the current unrest.

She suddenly got up, saying “thank you”, after replying to a question even as Singh was seated. He also then got up reluctantly and the press interaction at her residence ended.

While responding to questions, Mehbooba condemned stone- pelting and other forms of violence being witnessed in Kashmir for the last 47 days and suggested that casualties will take place when camps of security forces and police pickets and police stations are attacked by violent mobs.

She also elaborated on her earlier comments that only five per cent people of Kashmir are agitating. She said she meant to say that while 95 per cent of the people wantresolution to the problem peacefully, five per cent had “hijacked” the issue by indulging in violence.

“I am for resolution of Kashmir issue. There should be dialogue. But by resorting to stone-pelting and attacking the camps, no issue will be resolved. We are not sidelining the issue. We want resolution,” she asserted.

The Chief Minister sought to explain the manner in which casualties took place, particularly of the youngsters, over which there has been an uproar.

“95 per cent of those killed — mostly youth — have died in retaliatory action while they were attacking the security establishments,” she said.

She added, “People have come onto the roads. We imposed curfew. Did the children go to army camps to buy toffees (candy)? Was the 15-year-old boy, who attacked the police station at Damhal Hanjipora (in south Kashmir), going there to get milk?”

At the same time, she said she supported action against those security personnel who were involved in the killing of a lecturer in Khrew area of Pulwama district earlier this month.

“There is the case of lecturer. An inquiry should be held and punishment should be given the culprits. I support it,” Mehbooba said.

As journalists kept asking questions about her role in dealing the situation, Singh tried to mediate by telling the scribes: “Mehbooba ji is from among you”.

However, Mehbooba was combative, saying, “What will they tell me? I have saved the youth of south Kashmir from Task Force (Special Operations Group of Police). I have saved them from the knives when they were taken for bonded labour.”

Even as Rajnath Singh repeatedly tried to calm her by tapping her, Mehbooba underscored that “Violent means have no place anywhere in the world” and “if you want to defame an issue, you resort to violence.”

A reporter suggested that Mehbooba had changed her stance after coming to power since as an opposition leader during the 2010 agitation she had criticised the Omar Abdullah goverment for wanton arrests and caging of separatist leaders but was following the same tactics while in power.

The Chief Minister responded: “Your analysis is wrong. In 2010, there was a reason. There was a fake encounter in Macchil in which three civilians were killed. Then there were allegations of rape and murder (of twon women) in shopian. That means there was a reason for people’s anger.

“This year an encounter took place as happens. Three militants were killed. What was the fault of the government?”

With regard to her earlier remarks about 95 per cent people of Kashmir not supporting the agitation, she said, “What I meant was that people want resolution of issues peacefully but 5 per cent people who resort to violence have hijacked the issue. They are used as shields by the miscreants to attack the security camps. They want poor young people to get killed and blinded. Don’t you understand this?”

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