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J-K unrest ‘pre-planned’, only handful involved: CM

PTI |

Contending that the unrest in Kashmir was "pre-planned", Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said a "handful of people" were deliberately keeping the Valley on the boil while 95 per cent people were peace-loving and should not be punished for the fault of 5 per cent.

She expressed pain that children are being used as a shield by "vested interests" while attacking camps and posts of security forces to incite them, as a result of which innocent kids become a casualty.

Mehbooba also sent out a message to those raising "pro- azadi" slogans, asking them to see the condition of Muslims in Islamic countries like Pakistan, Syria, Turkey and Afghanistan even though these nations have "freedom". She said once gun makes inroads in a society, then the meaning of ‘azadi’ is lost.

"I have been saying that gun will not solve anything.

Stones also will not solve anything," she said at a public meeting here, while underlining that anybody having any grievance should come forward to discuss it through talks.

Contending that she had planned so many developmental programmes to be pushed after Eid, she said the unrest was "pre-planned" as "vested interests" were keen to latch on to something to trigger unrest.

"I don’t understand what happened… people were waiting for a chance. Whenever the situation becomes little better in J&K, tourism starts, work begins, something or the other happens which creates problems in normal functioning," Mehbooba said.

"After the Assembly (session) was over, we had decided to work more. But after (her) Assembly (election) result and Eid, all this began," she said.

Referring to the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in a gunfight, the Chief Minister said, "there was nothing new in this. Killing of militants has been happening for the past 25 years. I want to tell you this because all this was pre-planned. They were waiting for a reason, a chance to put the state back into that fire in which it was always." 

She said, "they (those indulging in violence) are only a handful of people. Most Kashmiris want peace. They understand that the kind of freedom Kashmir is enjoying today is not there even in Islamic countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Turkey and Pakistanis. When gun enters a country, it is no more free, no matter how much it claims to be free."

Mehbooba repeatedly said that Kashmiris are not bad people and that they want peace, education and development.

She added that they have lot of faith in the country which is proved by the fact that many of them have sent their children for studies to various parts of the country because of sense of insecurity in Kashmir.

"If they did not have faith in the country, they would not sent their children there but to other countries," the Chief Minister said.

She said she was working to withdraw cases against the youth who had FIRs registered for stone-pelting since 2008 to give them a chance to lead their lives afresh "but only because of these handful of people, our government is not able to do much".

"I request the government in Delhi to do something for Kashmiris… I want to tell the government in Delhi that they should not view Kashmiri people from one angle. 95 per cent of the people want to send their children to the schools, want to work and want to earn their livelihood.

"…the Union government has to think about these 95 per cent and because of the rest 5 per cent Kashmiris (involved in the unrest), these 95 per cent should not be punished," the Chief Minister said.

The Centre should take care of these 95 per cent people and see how to bring them out of this misfortune.

"The central government and the Congress, which has been creating a lot of hue and cry on Kashmir right now, should work together to formulate some kind of mechanism to bring out 95 per cent people of the Kashmir out of this troubled situation," she said.

Talking about casualty of children, Mehbooba said at a time when they should be with their mothers, they are being incited and pushed by "vested interests" to attack camps of security forces and police stations to use them as a shield.

"These handful of people do not come out in the open.

They want women and the children to be their shield and once security forces are provoked, they vanish, leaving the children to face pellet guns etc.. They don t have any concern for their lives," he said.

At the same time, she said security forces have exercised maximum restraint, which is clear by the fact that so many of them have suffered injuries.

Drawing a contrast between the unrest now and that in 2010, Mehbooba said in the previous episode, there was anger because three people had been killed in fake encounter and two girls had been raped and killed. "But this time, no such thing happened. It was only an encounter where three militants were killed. There is nothing new in this. Killing of militants has been happening for the past 25 years," she said. 

Mehbooba said the people, who are vitiating the environment and creating unrest in the region, are not Kashmiris. "The people of Jammu and Kashmir know what ‘azadi’ is. These few people want to vitiate the environment of peace because the BJP-PDP government is doing good work and they have began to deliver," the Chief Minister said.

Sending out a terse message to the stone-pelters, she said, "If you want to protest, then why small children are taken to security camps and police stations and are pushed into by inciting for attacks by petrol bombs. These people incite the mob and then run away and allow them to die." 

She added, "You (protesters) go to CRPF camps with children and you escape from there after inciting the mob of these children and raise their sentiments for entering into the camp. You escape from there and the result is whether it is pellet gun firing or rifle firing, the children get killed."

Chief Minister said "the children, who should have been with their parents, in the lap of their mothers, have been made shield by defying curfews and restrictions for attacking camps and police stations".

Narrating the events leading to unrest, she said "we shifted from Jammu to Srinagar, held peaceful Assembly session and were faced with Handwara episode where we wanted to ensure peace then the issues were racked up one or the other colony.

"I mean to say that some people were waiting in wings to get some excuse (to disturb peace). Whenever the situation in Jammu and Kashmir becomes normal, tourism gets back on track and people get engaged into their jobs and trades, there is some or the other trouble instigated." 

Before the unrest, there was a huge footfall of tourists in Kashmir valley, Amarnath yatra started in a big way and the government tried to provide better infrastructure, including power supply, ration, She said.

"We introduced a policy for ensuring that every individual gets his or her share of food and we thought after the conclusion of the Assembly session we will start this work. The Assembly session concluded I got the results (of victory in Assembly elections) and then what has happened you all know," she said.

She said, "Some people thought that this PDP-BJP government will carry forward the agenda of previous Mufti Mohammad Sayeed government in Jammu and Kashmir towards development, peace, progress and prosperity by opening new routes between two sides of LoC and strengthen the cross border trade and travel." 

The Chief Minister said the attempts to disturb peace were first made from Handwara to trigger unrest but the people did not respond. She was referring to the purported incident of alleged molestation of a school girl by a soldier.

"….they got an excuse (after Burhan’s encounter).

Otherwise there have been hundreds of encounters till now and hundreds of security forces, militants and policemen and innocent people have been killed," she said.

While attacking "vested interests" for making children their sheild during stone pelting, Mehbooba said she had earlier fought to end the practice of security forces and police of making civilians a human shield during encounters and searches.

"Earlier, security forces and police used to take people along with themselves during search operations and the people would fear that if there are militants inside, they can fire on them and they will get killed," she said.

"I fought with security forces, STF and the government that you cannot make those people shields, but today I feel sorry that we have removed the fear among the youth that nobody can touch you whether army, police or security forces if you are on the right path," she added.