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PM Modi took risk by visiting Pakistan for the sake of J-K people: Mufti

“For me, India was Indira (Gandhi). For me, India was Taj was the movies we used to watch. There are lakhs of people like me (in J&K) who understand India and there are those, in the minority, who do not believe in it,” she added.

punjab Updated: Dec 16, 2017 17:08 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti.(HT File)

The force alone cannot change the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the government needs to take risk to make things better for the people of the valley, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Friday.

The chief minister, who runs a coalition government in the state, lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi for taking risk by paying an “uninvited visit to Pakistan” for the sake of the people. The state saw almost a 10-year-long de-escalation in terror activities thanks to peace measures announced during the tenure of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, she said.

“Vajpayee ji also went to Pakistan, but he was invited. But Modi ji took the risk and went uninvited,” she said at the Ideas India conclave organised by the think tank India Foundation, which has senior BJP leaders and ministers are patrons.

The chief minister called for more peace initiatives in the Valley, saying the force cannot be used against “our own people”.

There has to be a balance between using force against those for whom it is required and the rest who are not opposed to the “idea of Kashmir within the idea of India” Mufti said.

“Jammu and Kashmir is and was a Muslim-majority state that took a decision very different at that time, we should not punish them is not about Sardar or Nehru, it was a decision taken then that it will be a crown and a showcase ...let it stay a crown and do not crush it. Idea of India is complete without the idea of Kashmir,” she said.

Mufti, who had a tumultuous start to her alliance with the BJP, threw her weight behind the Modi government and said the PM has taken a risk too but unfortunately his initiative was followed by terror attack at the Airforce base in Pathankot.

She said her father late Mufti Mohamed Sayeed also took a risk by aligning with the BJP. “When we asked him why he was taking this suicidal risk, he said the BJP is a nationalist party and if we are able to convince them, they will do everything and anything it takes to get Kashmir out of the mess.”

Mufti said people should not conflate the issue of Pakistan with Kashmir because “Kashmir belongs to India”.

“We need both the government and the people across the country to extend a healing touch to the people of Jammu and Kashmir who are emotionally, economically and mentally under siege,” the chief minister said.

The chief minister advocated for throwing open international trade routes to allow people access to the outside world and said Kashmir owing to its strategic position can be used a gateway to South Asia.

“Today SAARC is being held hostage, why not allow Kashmir to become the border state for Saarc cooperation? We need it to help the state develop its own identity and the people too aspire to be part of something big,” she said.

The chief minister also called for international flights to become operational in the region.

“We were given an International Airport, but international flights and road connectivity have not taken off. We need to open more routes so that people feel a sense of freedom. They feel captive today, we need to engage them,” Mufti said.

On the issue of rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, who migrated from the Valley during the peak of terrorism in the valley in 1990s, the chief minister said the process began in 2002 when her father was the chief minister, and is now being strengthened.

“Pandits were a minuscule minority and we could not protect them. But my government is committed to bringing them back,” she said.

To a question on why mainstream cinema is not allowed in the Valley, she said: “I have grown up bunking classes to watch films and the students are deprived of something joyful, don’t know how it is to eat popcorn and watch a film.”

First Published: Dec 16, 2017 14:57 IST