Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Saturday that separatists will have to decide if they wanted to hold talks with the government to break the “cycle of violence” in the Valley, which has been on the boil since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani last month.
On the 50th day of the lockdown in Kashmir, Mufti called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the first time in New Delhi to hold a meeting on the recent unrest. She reportedly sought the creation of a group of interlocutors to hold talks with all stakeholders, lashing out at Pakistan for stoking violence.
Seventy people have been killed and thousands injured in clashes between stone-pelting protesters and security forces since Wani’s death on July 8 as Mufti’s government faced criticism over the handling of the demonstrations.
“They (the separatists) have to decide if they want to talk. On one side, you tell youth to attack security forces and army camps... Talks should be held with those who want peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. For others, it is a business. Those who provoke people and cause bloodshed don’t want talks.”
She appealed to the separatists for peace, saying they “will have to help us save the lives” of the youth.
On a recent visit to Srinagar, home minister Rajnath Singh too hinted at dialogue with separatists, saying those who believe in ‘jamhooriyat (democracy), insaniyat (humanity) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmiri ethos)’ should come forward for talks.
Sources said Mufti feels that separatists should be allowed hold their protest rallies, but the Centre wants to go slow on this. Sources in J-K’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party said Mufti advocated before the PM a three-pronged action plan, including the “involvement of separatists in substantive dialogue”.
Mufti also asked for a group of interlocutors who will talk to all stakeholders in Kashmir to carry forward former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy of dialogue with all parties, including Pakistan.
“The Prime Minister is very concerned about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir like we all are. It is a matter of concern for everyone. The Prime Minister wants this bloodshed to end so that the state comes out of the present turmoil,” Mufti told reporters.
But she blamed Pakistan for not seizing the peace move made by PM Modi.
“Our Prime Minister took bold initiatives of inviting (Pakistan Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif for oath-taking ceremony and later flew to Lahore. This was unfortunately followed by the Pathankot terror attack (which India blames on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed).
“Lately, when the situation was bad and Pakistan was fuelling the ongoing crisis in Kashmir, our home minister Rajnath Singhji went to there (for a Saarc summit), but again, unfortunately, Pakistan let go this golden opportunity and did not extend the courtesy that needs to be given to a guest,” she said.
Pakistani leaders have criticised India over the unrest. For its part, India has accused Islamabad of interfering in New Delhi’s internal affairs and stoking tension.
Mufti hinted at continuance of the tie-up between the PDP and Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, saying the foundation of the alliance was Vajpayee’s Kashmir policy.
She recalled the words of her late father and former chief minster Mufti Mohammed Sayeed who had said that only the Prime Minister (Modi) who enjoys two-thirds majority can resolve the Kashmir crisis.
“If things don’t happen during his tenure, it won’t happen ever. I believe that Modiji, who took a bold step of going there, today said again that we need to talk to our own people because people are dying,” Mufti said.
She said an all-party delegation from New Delhi will reach Srinagar (in the first week of September) and make efforts to reach out to the people in the state.
“Similarly, I will ask Pakistan if they have some concern for the people of Kashmir they should stop supporting the people who are instigating the youth in the Valley,” she said.