Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday pitched afresh for a dialogue between India and Pakistan to end the violence in the restive state, even as a gunfight raged between terrorists and security forces in Srinagar.
The chief minister also hit out at some media houses, which, she claimed, have created an atmosphere in which the very talk of talks was considered anti-national.
"If Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti say hold talks with Pakistan, they are dubbed anti-national. There is no alternative (to resolve the issue) except by holding talks," Mehbooba told the state assembly in Jammu on the concluding day of the budget session.
"If we (the Kashmiris) don't talk about it (dialogue), who will? Not a Bihari, not a Punjabi," she said.
A Central Reserve Police Force constable was killed in a gunfight with terrorists in downtown Srinagar after security forces foiled militants' attempts to strike a CRPF camp. The terrorists were still holed up in an abandoned house in Karan Nagar in the heart of the city where intermittent firing was on.
Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiyba, meanwhile, has claimed responsibility for the attack on the CRPF camp. Its Kashmir chief Mehmood Shah claimed in an e-mailed statement that the attack was perpetrated by its activists.
The heavily-armed terrorists tried to strike the CRPF camp, located very close to SMHS Hospital from where Lashkar-e-yTaiba terrorist Naveed Jutt alias Abu Hanzala was freed from police custody by terrorists on February 6.
The incident comes two days after terrorists attacked an army camp in Sunjuwan area of Jammu, killing six people including five soldiers. Three terrorists were also killed in retaliation by the army.
"The search operation is still on (at the camp)," Jammu-based army public relations officer Lt Col Devender Anand said.
India and Pakistan, Mehbooba told the House, have fought three wars but the Kashmir problem has been been resolved.
"We have fought three wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971 and have won all of them, even Kargil war, but our basic problem has not been resolved," she said, insisting a solution to the Kashmir question lay in talks alone.
Noting that Kashmiris were losing lives on the borders and in hinterland, civilians or security personnel, she said she was happy that both the opposition and the ruling parties in the state favoured dialogue for conflict resolution.
She assailed "some TV channels" for vitiating the atmosphere in the state.
"There are some media houses that have created an atmosphere where even talking about talks has become anti- national. They hold worst debates with polarised mindset. They bring people from Kashmir who are not even known in their own colonies.
"They always speak anti-India. They are picked up because they use unparliamentary and bad language, particularly against India, and same type of people are picked from the other side to reply to them," Mehbooba said.
Recalling her father, the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, she said the former chief minister always favoured dialogue as a tool to strengthen democracy, which, he felt, was a battle of ideas.