SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today urged the police to try to bring back to mainstream the youths who have fled their homes to join militancy, instead of their being killed in encounters.
In remarks which come in the wake of a prolonged unrest in the Valley triggered by gunning down of local Hizbul militant Burhan Wani, 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, 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.”
Mehbooba, who was speaking at the Police Commemoration Day function at Armed Police Complex in Zewan on the outskirts of the summer capital here, said that such youths needed hand-holding.
She stressed that ending militancy and restoring peace were a prerequisite for repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and for seeking start of dialogue process in the state.
“We cannot force anyone to have dialogue on gun-point, stones or by lathis,” she said adding that only when there is a “conducive” atmosphere she can go to Delhi with her “head held high”.
Urging local youths to give up violence, she said that “black laws” like AFSPA would be repealed from the state when the situation improves.
“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.
“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.
The Chief Minister said the police should deal with militants but civilians should not be troubled.
Referring to young boys indulging in stone-pelting, Mehbooba said they do not know what they were doing and some of the people who were instigating them have been identified and so will be others.
“A 12-year-old child comes out to throw stones, does he know why he is throwing (stones)? There are some people behind them, some of whom we have identified and others too we will identify.
“I request them as well why have you involved young children, why have you made them a shield? You have pushed them to camps, police stations, you tell them what they have to do during the day, but you yourself escape during the night,” she said, apparently targeting the separatists.
“But this issue cannot be solved by stones, bullets, guns or encounters.”
Pitching for dialogue between India and Pakistan, the chief minister said the neighboring country should help in creating a conducive atmosphere for it.
Mehbooba said her government wants to ban the use of pellet guns as a crowd control measure and sought cooperation of police saying they should “tolerate” and refrain from using such weapons as the protests will not continue forever.
“If there is an injury on you, let it be, but if we save a youth’s eyes or arms from pellet guns, then I think it will be your biggest sacrifice. Because this (protests) will not continue forever, it is temporary. But I need your cooperation,” she said.
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 said once peace is established in the state, she would ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to begin a dialogue process.
“Establish peace here and the next day I will go to Delhi and request the Prime Minister to talk to everyone and find a solution…to do justice with our people; those people who come out to vote on the edge of sword for their safety, prosperity and development.”
“If this vandalism, stone-pelting continues, then I will be focused on that only,” she said, asking the police to help the government to establish peace.
Recalling the visit of the all-party delegation, she regretted that separatists did not respond to its members.
“I also wrote a letter to them asking them to talk, because no one is with violence in today’s world. No one will listen to what someone, who has picked up arms, has to say even if his account is good. Whatever is said by way of violence, is lost.”
Dialogue is possible only when a conducive atmosphere is created in the state and Pakistan should also contribute to it, she said. “Our commitment is for dialogue among all and (former PM) Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy that we cannot change neighbors and have to have good relations with Pakistan.
“But how will that happen? If we want, and we should want, that our country and Pakistan should have dialogue, then that decision has to be taken here and not there and when we create such atmosphere here. Pakistan should also help us in that.”
She said whenever there is an atmosphere of war, its impact is on Jammu and Kashmir.
“See, there is a fight on whether to show a film or not, but the trade continues on Wagah border,” she said on a row over boycott of Pakistani artistes.
Reaching out to police, she said, “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.
“These kids should have basketballs, cricket bats in their hands.”
The chief minister said children have to focus on their education and solving issues is the job of the elders.
Mehbooba said there were “instances where we made mistakes and which should not have happened” and cited cases like death of Junaid in Safakadal and a lecturer in Khrew area of Pulwama.
“If a family member has made a mistake, there should be action because we have to save the family,” she said.
She asked the police to do hand-holding of the children and engage “in parenting and not just policing”.
“Whatever amount of bullets had to be fired, they have been fired. I hope you will try from now on that even if you have to take a wound from a stone, take it, but try to avoid injuries to the children,” she said.
“We cannot single handedly create atmosphere for dialogue. We need the help of the people, the police and the security forces in that,” she said.–PTI