October 2016 News

Don't Kill Militants, Help Them Shun Gun, Mehbooba Tells Police

21 October 2016
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday asked the police to 'wean away the youth from joining the militant ranks' instead of killing them in encounters. 'My appeal to the police is to bring those who have joined militancy home, whenever possible, instead of them making them fall prey to encounters. If they (militants) become a part of the mainstream, we can hand them a bat or a ball or a pen instead of guns,' Ms. Mufti said in her address on the Police Commemoration Day function held at Armed Police Complex in the Zeewan area. Ms. Mufti's statement comes a day after a video showed nine recently-recruited youth hugging each other in an orchard, as new Hizbul Mujahideen commander Zakir Bhat asks youth to join the ranks. Asking Pakistan to stop supporting militancy in Kashmir, she asked it to 'end support to the militancy' and admitted that 'there was rise in militant figures.' 'When the graph of militancy comes down, there would be more opportunities for the two countries to talk. Pakistan must understand we are neighbours and Indians, Pakistanis are the same people,' she said. She, however, added that it was heartening to see cross-LoC bus and trade service continuing despite hostile situation. Referring to internal and external peace process initiated by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Ms. Mufti said, 'With a robust mandate on his back, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has the opportunity to resolve the Kashmir issue in the interest of peace and stability in the region.' Referring to the All-Party Delegation's visit, Ms. Mufti said the separatists seem to have missed the opportunity at starting a dialogue process by spurning the parleys and not facilitating the solution. Without naming separatists, she asked, 'Why did you push youth towards camps and towards violence, used them as shields and fled from the scene yourself? 'Give peace a chance and I will again plead with the leadership in New Delhi to talk to all shades of the political opinion in J&K, including the separatists,' she added. She also urged Pakistan 'to reciprocate with open mind and in good faith to the peace initiatives'. Ms. Mufti also tried to assuage growing anger in Kashmir by calling for phased revocation of controversial Armed Forces Special Act (AFSPA). She promised to fix responsibility in case of excessive use of force against civilians in the past 105-day long street agitation, especially the killings of three youths in Khrew, Safakadal and Chattabal area. At least 92 civilians have died in civilian unrest so far.