Mehbooba Mufti meets Narendra Modi, tells Centre should adopt Vajypayee's approach to Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi amid the deteriorating security situation in the state and strains in the PDP-BJP coalition.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Mehbooba said that she discussed with the Prime Minister the steps that should be taken to improve the situation in the Valley. Though Mufti emphasised on the importance of holding dialogue, she said that the current atmosphere of mistrust and attacks wasn't conducive for such discussion. She said that she told Modi that the government's priority should be to disperse tension in the Valley.

"There is no option but to talk," Mehbooba said. Mehbooba also expressed faith in Modi's commitment to follow the footsteps of former prime minister AB Vajpayee. She said that going the Vajpayee way — building trust through dialogue — was the only way forward, but the immediate priority was to disperse friction between the civilians and security forces.

Vajpayee is remembered for his significant contribution in forwarding dialogue on Kashmir issue. The former BJP prime minister had even brought separatist hardliner Hurriyat Conference to the dialogue table.

The Jammu Kashmir chief minister also urged Modi to consider the losses being borne by the state because of the Indus water treaty. She said the state had no control over its water resources which was resulting in losses to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore per year. Mehbooba, who is under mounting attack in the face of fresh spurt in violence in Kashmir, briefed Modi on the prevailing situation in the state and the way forward.

She pressed the Centre for some political initiatives which would address the alienation felt among the people of Kashmir, especially, the youth, which is being reflected in increasing incidents of stone-pelting. She said that some of the youth were disillusioned by the state but a large majority was being systematically incited against the establishment.

Mehbooba's meeting with the Prime Minister also came against the backdrop of recent Srinagar bypoll for the Lok Sabha constituency which witnessed large scale violence and the lowest turnout ever.

In the bypoll, PDP also lost the seat to National Conference, in just three years after the 2014 general election.

PDP and BJP, which are running the coalition government in the troubled state, are not on the same page on the issue of dealing with the growing trend of stone-pelting and this has led to friction between them. A BJP minister Chander Prakash Ganga recently advocated strong action, saying "traitors and stone-pelters should be treated with bullets".

This comment drew the ire of the PDP, which said there was a "conspiracy" to keep trouble brewing in the Valley. "Such detestable remarks not only reflect the nauseous mentality of some extremist politicians in the state, but also expose the larger design of certain elements to provoke fresh trouble in Kashmir so that Kashmiris are pushed into perpetual educational and economic dis-empowerment," senior PDP leader Peerzada Mansoor had said in a statement later.

Against the backdrop of the strains, BJP's pointsman for Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav on Friday last held a meeting with senior PDP leader Haseeb Drabu in Jammu. Madhav then met Ganga, who later expressed regret for his controversial comment.

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Updated Date: Apr 24, 2017 12:04:47 IST

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