Jammu, Aug 22 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said a handful of people opposed to peace were inciting youth to violence in the Kashmir Valley.
She said she was unable to understand why such madness has gripped the valley this time around though there have been deaths in shootouts before.
“There have been encounters before, people have been killed before but why so much madness this time around,” she wondered while addressing a gathering here, referring to the cycle of violence in the Kashmir valley following the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
Speaking at an official function in the Bhagwati Nagar area of the city, Mehbooba, who visited Jammu for the first time since violence began in the valley last month, said some elements “who do not want peace in Kashmir” are inciting youths to violence “for their vested interests”.
Coming down heavily on such elements Mehbooba said “95 per cent of Kashmiris” should not be held to ransom for the misdeeds of just five per cent of bad elements.
“Why should 95 per cent people of Kashmir suffer for the misdeeds of five per cent,” she said.
“Whenever they see that some constructive work is being done, some progress is being made, they try to hinder it,” Mehbooba said as she urged the central government to look at the plight of the “majority of peace-loving people”.
She asserted that the predominant majority of Kashmiris were peace loving and want “dignity and development”.
Mehbooba said the security forces have been exercising restraint and it was people “who use children and women as shields while attacking police stations and security forces’ camps” who are responsible for the large number of casualties.
“A large number of security personnel have been injured ever since the unrest began. This shows the level of restraint they have been exercising.”
“The real culprits are those who use children and women as shields while attacking police stations, and when tempers rise they just disappear from the scene,” Mehbooba said.
“These people started trouble in 2008. They started trouble again in 2010 following a fake encounter in Machil. After I took over, they tried to start trouble on the pretext of Handwara (alleged rape) incident which they failed to do.”
She said these elements also tried to raise the issues of separate colonies for retired soldiers and Kashmiri Pandits but “failed”.
At least 68 people have been killed and thousands injured in the recent unrest in the valley.
Mehbooba said violence was no means to achieve anything.
The fact that students from Kashmir studying outside the state did not face any problems because of the unrest proves the fact that people in other parts of the county love Kashmiris, said the chief minister.
She welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that dialogue is important for a lasting solution.
“We welcome Prime Minister’s statement. We also want a lasting solution. Wherever needed, we will cooperate,” she said.
Mehbooba thanked the people of Jammu for maintaining peace and harmony at a time the valley was scarred by violence.