Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday termed the ceasefire violations along the India-Pakistan border as unfortunate, saying the two countries should work together for peace.
Mufti said the cross-border firing came at a time when the Kashmir Valley was rocked by unrest, compounding the problems for the border state.
“For the last one month, the situation has again turned grave on the borders. Hundreds have been rendered homeless; we had to close down schools in areas along the borders and it is affecting the education (system),” she said on the sidelines of the opening of Civil Secretariat in Jammu.
At least 20 people, including children, have been killed in a month since Pakistan started pounding border villages and posts with mortar and heavy machine guns, violating a 13-year ceasefire agreement between the two neighbours.
“You can change your friends, but you can’t change your neighbours. We have to adopt the ideas of Atal Bihari Vajpayee to tackle Pakistan,” she said.
It was during Vajpayee’s tenure in 2003 that the ceasefire was reached, bringing calm to areas along the border and Line of Control, the de facto border.
“We have a very powerful leadership at the Centre, and with power comes the capacity to take bold decisions. I am hopeful that the ongoing hostilities will soon end and the initiative taken by Vajpayee of holding ceasefire on the borders will be restored again,” she said.
Pakistan has stepped up the offensive after Indian soldiers crossed the Line of Control on September 29 and targeted militants preparing to cross into India from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Mufti also expressed concern over the burning of schools in the Valley.
“The government has already taken into custody some miscreants who burned schools. I hope there should be some good news for us in the next one week,” she said.
More than 25 schools have been burnt in various parts of the Valley during the past four months of violent street protests that broke out after a militant leader was killed in a gunfight with security forces in south Kashmir. At least 90 people, most of them civilians, have been killed and thousands injured.
The biggest casualties of the unrest were schools and children, with education coming to standstill, she said. The state is to conduct board examination for Class 10 and 12 students from November 14. As schools remained closed for four months, students have the option to sit for the exams from next week or in March.
Mufti inspected a guard of honour at the civil secretariat in the heart of the city. The secretariat opened in Jammu after functioning out of Srinagar during the past six months as part of the Darbar move.
The Darbar move is a biannual feature in which the civil secretariat stays for six months of winter (from November to April) in Jammu, the winter capital, and returns to the Kashmir Valley for the summer months (May to October).
With agency inputs