A life lost in Kashmir is a loss for India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Mann ki Baat radio address on Sunday, and hit out at troublemakers for using children as foot soldiers to further their agenda.
“Those who push small children in the forefront to create unrest in Kashmir will someday have to answer to those innocent children,” he said.
Also, he appreciated the unity among political parties on Kashmir, saying their united voice has “delivered a message for the separatists”.
His remarks came a day after his meeting with Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who suggested an institutional mechanism for dialogue with the people in her restive state.
The peace process appears to be rolling as authorities in Srinagar announced late on Sunday that curfew in the Kashmir Valley could be lifted from Monday — after a record 51 days since protests erupted over the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. The unrest has left 70 people, including security personnel, dead.
Besides, Union home minister Rajnath Singh is likely to lead an all-party delegation to the state on September 3 for talks with Kashmiris and to take stock of the situation.
Last week, the Centre asked the state to crack down on radicalised groups fuelling unrest in the Valley.
Ahead of the all-party delegation’s visit, Modi said all parties have spoken in one voice for unity, expressing affection for Kashmiris.
“On the minds of 1.25 crore Indians, from a village head to the Prime Minister, if a life is lost in Kashmir, be it of a youth or that of a security person, it is our loss, it is the loss of the nation.”
Modi said when every political party spoke as one, referring to debates in Parliament and the all-party meeting, “the united voice sent a strong message to the outside world, separatists and expressed our sentiments for the Kashmiri people”.
He lauded the Opposition, which had earlier questioned his silence on Kashmir in the July Mann ki Baat, aired three weeks into the post-Wani unrest in the Valley.
“What is the power of unity, what can’t be achieved if we walk together,” he said, pointing to the Opposition’s role in passing the goods and services tax bill, and addressing the Kashmir crisis.
Home minister Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley, BJP chief Amit Shah and junior minister in the prime minister’s office, Jitendra Singh, discussed the situation in the northern state on Sunday.
The plan to send the all-party delegation was on the table. “Rajnath Singh is a senior leader and we have come for margdarshan (guidance),” Jitendra Singh said.