Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday said families cannot be considered the same as their militant relatives, a day after the Jammu and Kashmir government announced compensation for Khalid Wani, the brother of a Hizbul Mujahideen commander.
Urging that it was time to heal the wounds Kashmiris had suffered in the unrest, Mehbooba said, “We need to differentiate between a militant and his family, his parents, siblings and children. Sab ko ek hi nazar se nahi dekh sakte (We can’t view everyone through the same lens)... If a youngster is a stone-pelter, a habitual stone-pelter, then we need to differentiate between his relatives and him.”
The state government announced ex gratia payments -- either Rs 4 lakh or a government job for the nearest kin -- for families of 17 people killed in militancy-related incidents, including Khalid who was killed in an encounter in April last year.
His brother Burhan Wani was a top commander with the Hizbul Mujahideen, and was even considered a hero among some of the locals. Burhan was killed in an encounter with security forces this July, leading to civic unrest and triggering Kashmir’s longest continuous shutdown. More than 80 people died in the unrest, while thousands were injured, many from the government forces’ pellet guns which are classified as non-lethal.
Mehbooba said that force had to be used by the police and security forces many a time during the turmoil for securing lives and property. But now that the situation is improving, the time had come to heal the wounds and "change our ways".
“If there is an attack on your camp or police station, then I understand, but if someone throws stones at you, you should try to restrain yourselves till we find an alternative to pellet guns and ban them completely,” she said while speaking at a police passing out parade at the Commando Training Centre in Lethpora, south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
She told the gathering that she hoped that the Valley’s situation will become such that guns and pellet guns won’t be used. Mehbooba also said that the Kashmir’s situation could be improved by limiting strict laws, such as the Public Safety Act, only to criminals and not senior citizens or teenagers.
The government’s stance also comes at a time Hizbul Mujahedeen militant Zakir, in a video message, warned state police against harassing their families or face consequences.
For passing-out cadets, a happy day
Despite the turmoil still simmering in the state, the newly recruited police personnel were happy to have passed the course, and are looking forward to joining the force.
“Whenever a policeman is recruited he is ready take a bullet on the chest, not his back. We are ready,” said Nisar Ahmed, one of the graduating police cadets.
Not very worried about the situations they might be thrust into, Adil Ahmad, a recruit from Srinagar, said, “We need to see everything from a humanitarian point of view and take actions considering the same. Insaniyat is the most important principle now.”