Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti broke her silence over militant Burhan Wani’s encounter killing but ended up stoking an attack from her political rivals. As she told the press in Srinagar that the security forces were not aware of Burhan Wani’s presence during the raid at his hideout, opposition J&K National Conference dubbed her statement a “cruel joke” even calling her a “completely clueless CM”.
Kashmir valley has witnessed a large scale protest following the encounter killing of Hizbul commander and new militancy poster-boy 22-year-old Burhan Wani. Nearly 50 people have been killed and scores in thousands have injured in the clashes between the protestors and security forces.
Countering the allegation that her office was in know of the encounter, Mehbooba told the press pack that had the security forces known about Wani’s presence the situation could have perhaps been controlled better.
“I feel if they knew, perhaps we would not have such a situation when the overall situation in the state was improving, so it could have been a chance,” she said on Thursday.
Ironically, the encounter has also been questioned by her party senior Muzaffar Beigh, a Lok Sabha MP, a view not shared by her alliance partner in the state – the BJP.
“How can one know everything about every encounter? As far as I know, what I heard from the police and the army, who said they only knew that there were three militants inside the house but did not know who they were,” she told reporters here.
Besides stoking protest in the valley, the encounter has played in stoking political slugfest as well, with the opposition alleging that the Chief Minister was aware of the operation and had also rewarded the officials who led the operation in Kokernag on July 8.
Earlier, briefing the press a day after the encounter of Burhan Wani, Additional Director General of J&K police SM Sahai had said that the Chief Minister was aware about the operation. Whereas on Thursday, Mehbooba Mufti told the press that police and intelligence agencies are saying that they did not know who was there.
Her remarks soon drew flak from the opposition JK National Conference.
“It is ironic and ridiculous that the Chief Minister is terming Burhan Wani’s killing a coincidence while simultaneously having released lakhs of rupees as reward money from the CM’s secret fund for those who took part in the encounter,” claimed the JKNC provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani.
“If Mehbooba Mufti is deluded into thinking that she can try to make a case that she was not aware of the encounter where a special team was dispatched from Srinagar to neutralize Burhan, she is living in her usual fool’s paradise,” the Opposition leader added.
(With inputs from the PTI)