Stirring a political controversy, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik asked terrorists to stop killing innocent people, including security personnel, and rather target "those who have looted the wealth of Kashmir for years", a statement which evoked severe criticism from mainstream politicians.
"These boys who have picked up guns are killing their own people, they are killing PSOs (personal security officer) and SPOs (special police officers). Why are you killing them? Kill those who have looted the wealth of Kashmir. Have you killed any of them?" Malik asked, speaking at a tourism function in Kargil of Ladakh region.
However, on Monday, Malik said he should have refrained from making the comment but it was triggered purely by anger.
Malik asserted that many politicians and bureaucrats are neck deep in corruption and he had ordered an investigation in which two or three former ministers are being probed.
His "blood boils" at the levels of corruption in the state, Malik said.
He also said he should not have made the comment as constitutional head of the state but it did reflect his feelings and he will repeat the same things when he is not governor.
"As a governor I should have refrained from making such statements but it was purely out of anger. My blood boils at seeing the level of corruption in the state... where the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer," he said.
"Today, I am the governor of the state and tomorrow I may be an ordinary citizen of this country. My views will not change. I can express my opinion as an individual about the level of malpractice in this state," Malik, who is touring Kargil and Leh, added.
The governor said the Crime Branch and the Anti-Corruption Branch are investigating two or three former ministers.
"If they are found guilty, I will ensure that they are not spared. I will not see what party they belong to. I may not have adequate powers according to the state laws but I will not hesitate to seek special powers from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I will go to every extent to make this a corruption free state," he said.
The governor's comments drew sharp reaction from former chief minister and senior Jammu and Kashmir National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, who said Malik should check his own reputation in Delhi.
"This man, ostensibly a responsible man occupying a constitutional position, tells militants to kill politicians perceived to be corrupt. Perhaps the man should find out about his own reputation in Delhi these days before sanctioning unlawful killings & kangaroo courts (sic)," Abdullah tweeted.
Later, the NC leader said, "Save this tweet -- after today any mainstream politician or serving/retired bureaucrat killed in J&K has been murdered on the express orders of the Governor of J&K Satyapal Malik."
"Is he trying to promote a jungle raj?" asked state Congress chief G A Mir. He said the governor's statement does not behove the constitutional position occupied by Malik.
However during his speech on Sunday, the governor was quick to add that guns could never be the solution and cited the example of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka.
"The government of India will never go down before a gun," he said, asking the terrorists to not take the route of violence.
Malik said only 250 terrorists were remaining in the Valley, out which 50 per cent were Pakistanis who will be eliminated in encounters, unless they surrender.
"The maulivis promise you heaven after death but here I am promising you heaven while you live, provided you shun the path of violence," he added in his appeal to the local terrorists.
Taking a veiled dig at mainstream politicians, Malik said these leaders talk a different language in Delhi and a different one in Kashmir.
"They should speak in one language at both places and need not scare us," he said.
The Governor was speaking at the inauguration of Kargil Ladakh Tourism Festival-2019 at Khree Sultan Cho Sports Stadium Kargil.
Malik said the twin districts of Kargil and Leh have huge tourism potential and that more such tourism festivals were needed.
He said the Kargil Airport's expansion work will begin soon and that Rs 200 crore has been sanctioned for it. This will not only provide round-the-year connectivity but also give a new dimension to the tourism sector in the region, Malik said.
The Governor said the state administration is committed for the holistic development of Ladakh division and concrete measures were being pursued towards this goal.
The government is taking strict measures to bring transparency in the system and removing various bottlenecks in the path of progress, he added.
Governor hits back at Omar
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Monday termed former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah a "political juvenile" who tweets on everything.
"He is a political juvenile. He tweets on everything. See the reaction to his tweets and you will find out. Go on the streets and ask people about him," Malik was quoted as saying to ANI.
Malik's comment came a day after Abdullah, in a tweet, slammed him for asking terrorists to kill corrupt people rather than targeting security forces.
He also said that as a Governor he should have avoided the comment while adding that whatever he said was in a "fit of anger".
"Whatever I said was in a fit of anger and frustration due to rampant corruption. As a Governor, I should not have said this. But if I was not holding this post, I would have said the same and would have been ready to bear the consequences," Malik said.
"Many of the political leaders and top bureaucrats are steeped in corruption here, they are criminals. As a Governor I should have avoided making such a comment, but as an individual this is what I feel," he added.
-- With inputs from ANI