Try to bring back to their homes the ‘local boys’ who have joined militancy instead of killing them in encounters, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti urged police on Friday amid unrest triggered by the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in a gun-battle with forces in July.
She also appealed to the police and security forces to refrain from using weapons like pellet guns while dealing with protests and instead ‘tolerate’ stone-pelting as a ‘sacrifice’.
The chief minister said while the police had exhibited patience during the last three months of unrest in the Valley, there were some mistakes which warrant action.
She also underlined that ‘black laws’ like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act would be repealed from the state only when the situation improves.
“We all have to work together, heal the wounds of the people here. The children here are the responsibility of God first, then our police because it is they who see them every day, everywhere,” she said.
“Those who have taken up arms or those who have not but are missing from their homes and want to join militancy, they are local boys. I request the police to try to bring them back to their homes. Instead of their being killed in encounters,” she added.
Mehbooba, who has dealt with the unrest triggered by Wani’s killing on July 8 in a tough manner, told the police, ‘such youth (who have taken to the gun) need hand-holding... If it is possible to bring them back, make them a part of the mainstream. Give them bats, balls and good education, instead of guns’.
Her remarks at the Police Commemoration Day function at Armed Police Complex in Zewan on the outskirts of Srinagar came close on the heels of a fresh video surfacing which shows a group of local terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit displaying weapons.
Earlier, similar videos of Wani and his associates used to surface in the Valley, before he was killed in an encounter.
Urging local youth to shun violence, Mehbooba said, “When the situation improves here, we will end the black laws. For that we have to create an atmosphere first. I know that today the situation is not such, but tomorrow, a year after... we have to repeal AFSPA as we cannot keep it in force forever.”
While stressing that ending militancy and restoring peace were a pre-requisite for repealing AFSPA and for seeking start of dialogue process in the state, she said, “We cannot force anyone to have dialogue on gun-point, stones or by lathis.”
She said only when there is a ‘conducive’ atmosphere, she can go to Delhi with her ‘head held high’.
“How can I do it today? There is infiltration, there are encounters. We have to end militancy and create peace in Jammu and Kashmir so that we can repeal AFSPA from some areas here,” she said.
She said the police should deal with militants but civilians should not be troubled
Turning to pellet guns, which have been the cause of serious injuries to thousands of protestors over last three months, Mehbooba said her government wants to ban the use of these weapons as a crowd control measure and sought cooperation of police in avoiding their use.
“If there is an injury on you, let it be, but if we save a youth’s eyes or arms from pellet guns, then I think it will be your biggest sacrifice. Because this (protests) will not continue forever, it is temporary. But I need your cooperation,” the chief minister told the security forces.
She said once peace is established in the state, she would ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to begin a dialogue process.
“Establish peace here and the next day I will go to Delhi and request the prime minister to talk to everyone and find a solution...to do justice with our people -- those people who come out to vote on the edge of sword -- for their safety, prosperity and development,” she said.
“If this vandalism, stone-pelting continues, then I will be focused on that only,” she said, asking the police to help the government to establish peace.
The chief minister said children have to focus on their education and solving issues is the job of the elders.
Mehbooba said there were ‘instances where we made mistakes and which should not have happened’ and cited cases like death of Junaid in Safakadal and a lecturer in Khrew area of Pulwama.
“If a family member has made a mistake, there should be action because we have to save the family,” she said.
She asked the police to do hand-holding of the children and engage ‘in parenting and not just policing’.
“Whatever amount of bullets had to be fired, they have been fired. I hope you will try from now on that even if you have to take a wound from a stone, take it, but try to avoid injuries to the children,” she said.
Mehbooba also emphasised that Pakistan has a huge role in establishing peace in the region and will have to stop cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir for any dialogue with India to be successful.
She said talks were not possible in the prevailing situation which has ‘deteriorated’.
At the same time, she said she remained hopeful about resumption of talks between India and Pakistan as Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to carry forward Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy.
“This is not a hidden thing that infiltration takes place and encounters happen on borders. Pakistan has a role to see that infiltration does not take place and there is no support to the militancy,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
“When the graph of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir comes down, there would be more opportunities for the two countries to talk. Those talks will then be successful,” she added.