Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said a handful of people opposed to peace were inciting youth to violence in the Kashmir valley.
Speaking at an official function in Bhagwati Nagar area of the city, Mehbooba, who visited Jammu for the first time since violence began in the valley last month, said these people “who do not want peace in Kashmir are inviting youths to violence for their vested interests”.
The Kashmir Valley has been on the boil since the July 8 killing of militant commander Burhan Wani. At least 68 people have been killed and thousands injured in the subsequent unrest in the valley.
Mehbooba said violence was no means to achieve anything. “Guns went into Afghanistan, Syria and Russia. Was anything achieved there by using those guns? Violence brings only destruction and nothing else.”
The Chief Minister thanked the people of Jammu for maintaining peace and harmony at a time the valley was going through difficult times.
“These people started trouble in 2008. They started trouble again in 2010 following a fake encounter in Machil. After I took over, they tried to start trouble on the pretext of Handwara (alleged rape) incident which they failed to do.”
She said these elements also tried to raise the issues of separate colonies for retired soldiers and Kashmiri Pandits but “failed”.
Mehbooba asserted that the predominant majority of Kashmiris were peace loving and want “dignity and development”.
“Certain quarters are not happy with the PDP-BJP coalition in the state and they have been out to unsettle the alliance,” she said.
The Chief Minister said the fact that students from Kashmir studying outside the state did not face any problems because of the unrest proves the fact that people in other parts of the county love Kashmiris.
The Chief Minister said that the political leadership in New Delhi and within the State must jointly work towards initiating the confidence building measures to respond to the people’s innermost yearning for peace with dignity.
“The renewed trust people of the State have time and again reposed in the 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,” she said and added that her Government visualizes a space of dignity, opportunity and prosperity for the peace-loving people of Jammu & Kashmir.
Mehbooba said the people of the State, irrespective of their age, gender, status or the political affiliation, have been suffering the disastrous consequences of the turmoil and they have to be retrieved from this quagmire, sooner the better.
She said at the same time, the people shall also have to give peace and reconciliation process a chance to take shape as had happened between 2002 and 2003. “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?” she said adding; “We shall have to reinforce our resolve to work through peaceful means and through public participation towards resolution of the problems and restoration of peace in the State.”
Mehbooba said in tune with her party’s ‘Agenda of Alliance’ with the BJP, several inter and intra-state confidence building measures were under discussion at various levels, which were to be implemented in a phased manner.
The Chief Minister 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,” she said and added that 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.