Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday asked security forces to restrain themselves from using pellet guns and differentiate between stone-pelters/militants and their families, while noting that force was used to deal with law and order in the Valley during the recent unrest.
“When we have to deal with such situation, we have to use force sometimes and I have no hesitation in saying this. We should all speak truth. We had to use force because we had to protect the lives and properties of all the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.
The chief minister was speaking at the passing-out parade of Jammu and Kashmir Police at Commando Training Centre here in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Mehbooba said if force was not used, losses would have been more.
“If we had not done so, there could have been more killings, more losses. But now, our endeavour should be to see towards those people who were confined to their homes because of the situation, strikes and curfew and what they have gone through in these six months,” she said.
The chief minister said now that the situation has improved and the time has come to “change our ways”.
“But now I think that when the situation has improved, the time has come to heal the wounds of the people. Now, we have to change our ways. We have to differentiate between the situation as of today and what was four months back. We will have to give special focus to the youth,” she said.
She said security forces have to differentiate between offenders like militants and stone-pelters and their families.
“We cannot weigh every youth by the same scale, we cannot see every youth with suspicious eyes, then the situation will not improve. We have to differentiate between militants and their families. We have to differentiate militants from their parents, siblings and children and we cannot weigh them by the same scale.
“If any youth is a habitual stone-pelter, we will have to differentiate between him and his family. You have to differentiate between an elder person involved in such activities and a student and see how to tackle them,” she said.
Mehbooba asked the security forces to exercise restrain while dealing with law and order situations.
“I hope that you will not deject me because I want J-K to prosper again, where guns or pellet guns are not used. I hope that police and security forces try to not use pellet guns. 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.
As many as 86 people, including two policemen, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the ongoing unrest in the Valley that began on July 9, a day after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter with security forces.
Around 5000 security forces personnel have also been injured in the clashes.
The chief minister said reconciliation was the only way forward in Jammu and Kashmir.
“I am of the belief that there is no way forward in J-K other than reconciliation. PSA and AFSPA are temporary and I want you to help me, our government, in creating such an atmosphere in J-K where a time will come when PSA is used only against criminals, drug addicts and smugglers and not against 40-year-old or 80-year-old or 19-year-old or students.”
“No one from outside can help us in doing that. We have to help ourselves and in that, the role of police is very important,” she said.
“We had army and security forces here before as well, but when militancy erupted here, AFSPA had to be imposed. Now, we all have to try together to create such an atmosphere where such laws like AFSPA, PSA or other hard measures are gradually revoked. I or my ministers cannot do this alone, after the role of people of J-K, your role is very important for that,” she said.
Praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his decisions like paying a visit to Lahore and demonetisation, Mehbooba said no other prime minister would have taken such decisions.
“I am hopeful that you will help me in creating such an atmosphere in J-K where there is reconciliation and dialogue. I want to make it clear that the current PM has guts to visit Lahore and he did it despite criticism but unfortunately Pathankot (attack) happened.
“It is this PM who took such a huge decision of demonetisation, knowing that people will face hardships and will be angry for some time. I do not think any other PM would have taken such decisions,” she said.
The chief minister said once peace is established in the state, it can act as a bridge of peace between India and Pakistan.
“If you all help us in creating peace in J-K, then I assure you - the people of J-K - that the way our PM went to Lahore by keeping everything else on the side and offered a hand of friendship, and when there was unrest, he sent a (all-party) delegation from Delhi to listen to people, understand and talk, so if we can create a better situation, then we can create conditions for dialogue with everyone not only in J-K, but we can act as a bridge of peace between India and Pakistan (as well),” she said.