Peace in Jammu and Kashmir is more important than prosperity or development, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Monday, expressing hope that all political parties come together to find a solution to the current unrest that has claimed 58 lives.
In a recorded speech telecast on Doordarshan early on Monday morning, Mehbooba said while the rest of India celebrated Independence Day, Kashmir was struggling with difficult times, a reference to the violence that has gripped the Valley for the past month.
“People have lost their lives, hundreds including woman and children have been injured,’’ she said. “When I witness the condition of our youth, I feel the IITs and IIMs are useless.”
Mehbooba said that a dialogue between India and Pakistan had to be a continuous process and not a way to divert attention from issues temporarily.
“Dialogue should be used for lasting peace in Jammu and Kashmir. We hope that the debates will be followed by concrete political and economic initiatives,’’ the chief minister said. Later in the day, she also delivered an Independence Day address in Srinagar’s Bakshi Stadium.
She said former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took some steps that were followed up by PM Narendra Modi when he went to Pakistan. She said steps were taken in the past as well but without any follow-up.
“My government’s endeavour is to start a meaningful initiative so that there is no repeat of situations like today every five or ten years,’’ she said. “The reason to form the current government was the same,’’ Mehbooba added.
“I understand your pain and difficulty and that was the reason I used to go from village to village to ensure that people come out of fear of killings, arrests and uncertainity,’’ she said.
Meanwhile, governor NN Vohra extended his Independence Day greetings by highlighting that restoration of “peace and normalcy” should be the “first and most immediate priority” in the state. He urged the leaders of all the mainstream political parties in the state to “ensure against delay in commencing a purposeful dialogue to vigorously pursue a sustained political initiative in Jammu and Kashmir, with the support of New Delhi as has already been assured.”
“The political leadership is facing a momentous challenge of taking every required initiative to reach out and win the hearts and minds of our youth and that this endeavour must be very strongly supported by the entire administrative machinery in the state,” Vohra said.