Union home minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday the government will propose a substitute to pellet guns in a few days following widespread criticism of the crowd-control device that has left thousands of Kashmiris blind in the current unrest.
On the second day of his visit to the Valley, Singh appealed to everyone to not play with the future of Kashmiri youth, urging people to identify those “fanning trouble”.
“Don’t play with the future of the Kashmiri youth,” Singh said, requesting people to identify the “trouble-mongers”.
“Youth in Kashmir should have pens, books and computers in their hands, not stones. If Kashmir has no future, India has no future,” Singh said, with chief minister Mehbooba Mufti by his side.
Singh said the government will appoint a nodal officer, and the people of Kashmir can reach out to him directly in need.
The minister’s comments are part of a concerted effort by the Centre to tamp down on simmering anger in Kashmir that has been on the boil following the killing of insurgent leader Burhan Wani. The violence has left 68 people dead and at least 10,000 injured.
CM Mufti, whose Peoples Democratic party is in an alliance with the BJP, said “95% people” in the state wanted peace, but the rest of the 5% were fanning unrest.
“I’ve told CM Mehbooba Mufti that an all-party delegation should visit the state and preparations should be made for that,” Singh said.
Singh said an expert committee will submit within four days a report on pellet guns, which have been held responsible for the massive number of injuries in the Valley.
“We will propose a substitute to pellet guns within a few days,” he added.
Though considered non-lethal, their use have been under scrutiny with reports of many of its victims losing sight.
Mehbooba said the street protests in 2010 -- where more than 100 people died -- and the current unrest couldn’t be compared. “Civilians had died in 2010, there was a fake encounter in Machhil. There was a reason behind people’s anger.”
But she said the government couldn’t be blamed when security forces killed three militants -- including Wani -- on July 8. “Did young children go to buy toffee in army camps? 95% of those killed are children of poor people and those injured by pellet guns. The two episodes can’t be compared.”
On whether the government will hold talks with the separatist Hurriyat, Singh said: “We want to hold talks with everyone within the ambit of humanity.”
On Wednesday, Singh had said he was willing to talk to all civil society groups within the framework of “kashmiriyat, insaniyat (humanity) and jamooriyat (democracy)”.