Asserting that gun will not solve any problem, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi will complete the process started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee to address the state’s problems which she attributed to the “mistakes” by successive central governments, starting from Jawaharlal Nehru.
In her maiden Independence Day address as Chief Minister, Mehbooba made an emotional appeal to the youth indulging in violence, telling them not to be misled by the “vested interests” who want to keep Kashmir burning, and prevent the beautiful valley from turning into another Syria or Afghanistan.
Speaking against the backdrop of over month-long unrest in the valley triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, she questioned people who have been indulging in violence as she underlined that any remedy could be found through dialogue in a great democracy like India.
Emphasising that any propaganda like attempts to erode the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is false, 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.
“Gun will not solve the problem. Guns have not solved any issue,” Mehbooba said, adding there is no way other than the dialogue to resolve problems and address grievances.
“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)”.
Emphasising that dialogue is the only way to resolve issues, Mehbooba expressed hope that Modi-led government at the Centre will take steps for addressing the political, social and economic 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.
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 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.
She lashed out at Pakistan for not giving good welcome to Home Minister Rajnath Singh who visited there for a SAARC conference earlier this month and said an opportunity to resume talks with India had been missed.
“PM Modi went to Pakistan in December (last year) and then Pathankot happened. Despite some militant organisations openly supporting the unrest in Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh went to Pakistan for SAARC Conference where some countries even went unrepresented.
“May be the objective was to start a dialogue that could lead to somewhere but I wonder why Pakistan let this opportunity go!” she said.
She said Prophet Mohammad has said that Muslims should give due respect even if an enemy comes to their homes but Pakistan did not do so when Singh went there.
“I appeal to leadership of India and Pakistan that there has been enough bloodshed now. Now River Jhelum has no capacity to soak more blood. Please come together,” she said.
Mehbooba told Pakistan: “If you love Jammu and Kashmir, then let us remove the borders between this Kashmir and that Kashmir without hurting the integrity of either of the country. Let us make Jammu and Kashmir model of development, cooperation and peace in SAARC region.