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Mehbooba Mufti slams Pakistan, tells Islamabad not to encourage terrorism in Kashmir

After meeting Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Srinagar, during his two-day visit, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti came down heavily on Pakistan for its stance on the ongoing tense situation in the Valley.

"Unfortunate. The country (Pakistan) that claims they are victims of terrorism themselves, encourages Kashmiri youths to take up guns. Pakistan needs to change this policy of theirs. It's important to start dialogue and we need a confident building measures between the two nations," Mufti was quoted as saying by ANI.

Criticised for her delayed response on the unrest which has plagued Kashmir for over 10 days now, Mufti further said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif by visiting Lahore but "unfortunately the dialogue process got stalled after Pathankot attack."

The ongoing war of words between Pakistan and India escalated recently after Pakistan PM Sharif addressed a gathering on the occasion of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's victory in the "Azad Jammu and Kashmir" assembly election last Thursday, said: "We are waiting for the day (when) Kashmir becomes (a part of) Pakistan."

Mufti also discussed Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Kashmir and said, "We are not saying that AFSPA must be revoked immediately and in entirety, but the process can be started on experimental basis."

No more than five human rights complaints — four in Jammu and Kashmir, one in Tripura — under AFSPA, a controversial law that provides immunity to armed forces from prosecution, were judged in 2015-16, a 93 percent fall over the average of three preceding years, government data submitted in Parliament on 21 July, 2016, showed.

As tensions grew in Kashmir following Hizbul commander Burhan Wani's killing, Mufti's PDP-BJP government came under heavy criticism as it almost became paralysed, its leaders became invisible and the CM herself became a subject of anger, ridicule and public backlash.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with Governor of Jammu and Kashmir N N Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during their meeting in Srinagar on Saturday. PTI

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh with Governor of Jammu and Kashmir N N Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during their meeting in Srinagar on Saturday. PTI

Like Sandipan Sharma writes in this Firstpost article: "The moral legitimacy and political authority of leaders is revealed in their ability to restore calm and peace in a situation of madness, anger and violence, to lead from the front and change the course of events through the force of their personality."

The unrest in Kashmir rattled the Monsoon Session of Parliament where the majority of senior leaders (never mind which party) showed solidarity and blamed Pakistan for the violence ensuing in the Valley. Congress and main Opposition leaders also criticised the BJP government over use of excessive force against civilians.

Curfew remained imposed in five districts of Kashmir and some parts of the summer capital. "Curfew is in force in four South Kashmir districts - Anantnag, Kulgam, Kupwara, Pulwama and Shopian and eight police station areas of Srinagar city as a precautionary measure," a police official said.

However, on Saturday, curfew was lifted from Bandipora, Baramulla, Budgam and Ganderbal districts and some parts of Srinagar city on Saturday soon after Singh reached Kashmir. A delegation of the main opposition party, National Conference, met Singh on Sunday to convey their stand of initiating a sustained dialogue with Pakistan as well as the separatist groups of the state.

On the second day of his Kashmir visit on Sunday, Rajnath Singh met political leaders and also met CM Mufti and her council of ministers. He also held a meeting with the CPI(M) delegation.

A group of Muslim clerics also met Singh at the high-security Nehru Guest House. A delegation of Shikarawalas and houseboat owners also called on the Home Minister and apprised him of their problems. However, two major representative trade bodies in the Valley, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) decided not to meet Singh. According to them, such exercises in the past have proved to be futile. The KEA, in an open letter to the Home Minister, said while they could understand the urgency for his visit to Kashmir for assessing the situation, "we also can easily determine the futility of this exercise."

KEA also accused union ministers of showing “arrogance and hostility” towards the people of the valley.

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said it too has decided not to meet Singh during his visit as "no purpose will be served in attending any meeting when the killing of innocent people is unabated and scores of people continue to be injured in the pellet/bullet gun fire."

The MHA release said that on the first day of his visit to Srinagar, Singh met about 15 delegations, including those of Sikh community, Kashmiri Pandits, Tourism and Hospitality industry and entrepreneurs, besides several individuals. Rajnath Singh is scheduled to visit the crisis-hit Anantnag district where he will take stock of the ground situation and interact with administrative officials.

The Congress unit of Jammu and Kashmir also decided not to meet Singh, saying the PDP-BJP coalition government seems to be "interested in meetings only" and not in any people-friendly steps. Singh, according to official sources, however, met some delegations including civil society members and leaders of some mainstream political parties. He also met top civil and security officials.

He also met the civil society delegation at Baramullah border area to review the law and order situation in Kashmir. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Aza, who initiated the debate in the parliament over the Kashmir issue said on Sunday, "We only demand for all party meeting in Delhi. Curfew in Kashmir hasn't ended even after 16 days."

(With inputs from agencies)

Updated Date: Jul 24, 2016 16:49 PM

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