JAMMU, May 8: In view of recent developments in the Kashmir valley including incidents of stone pelting on tourists and increase in protests at the encounter sites by the civilians, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today called an All Party Meeting (APM) in Srinagar tomorrow afternoon even as she called for “meaningful dialogue and outreach”, not just from the Government but the entire country saying Jammu and Kashmir will get pushed deeper into this vortex of gloom.
Official sources told the Excelsior that Mehbooba has called the APM at 2 pm at Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) in Srinagar. All recognized political parties, both national and regional, have been invited to the meeting, they said, adding the Chief Minister wanted to take suggestions from all parties in restoring normalcy in the Valley, which has been shattered with increased incidents of stone pelting on security forces during anti-militancy operations and latest incident of pelters targeting tourists in which 22-year old S Thirumani of Chennai was killed yesterday.
This is for the first time during her over two-year long tenure that Mehbooba Mufti has called All Party Meeting on Kashmir situation. In February this year, the Government had called the APM on Panchayat elections in the State, which were deferred after the meeting.
Apart from ruling PDP, BJP and People’s Conference, all major Opposition parties including National Conference, Congress, CPM, DPN, PDF, NPP etc and some Independent MLAs have also been invited to the meeting, which would be presided over by the Chief Minister herself.
“Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who also happened to be the PDP president, wants to involve all political parties to take their suggestions in tackling the developing situation,” sources said.
Before calling the All Party Meeting, Mehbooba in a couple of tweets, said Jammu and Kashmir needs dialogue and outreach not just from the Government but the entire country.
“Without a sustained, meaningful dialogue and outreach, not just from the Government but from the entire country, Jammu and Kashmir will get pushed deeper into this vortex of gloom,” she tweeted while offering deepest condolences to the family of deceased tourist.
She said it’s truly heartbreaking when a family saves for years to realize their dream of visiting Kashmir and while they are here, they face their worst nightmare. “I have no words strong enough to condemn this tragic incident”.
Mehbooba termed the death of a 22-year-old tourist whose vehicle was targeted by stone-pelters the “murder of humanity” and said the incident had rattled the mother in her.
Those who pick up stones to kill someone have no religion, an upset Mehbooba said after meeting the father of Chennai resident S Thirumani, who was holidaying in the Valley with his family and died yesterday evening at a hospital here.
The issue would be discussed and debated on television for days and “we will be silently watching the murder of humanity, which has been unheard of in the State of Jammu and Kashmir”, Mehbooba said.
Saying that her head hangs in shame, the Chief Minister questioned the education being imparted to children.
“The mother in me is rattled about the kind of education we are imparting to our next generation,” said the mother of two daughters and the first woman Chief Minister of the State.
“What are we teaching our children? To pick up stones and kill anyone walking on the road? This is not what our religion Islam preaches. Our religion teaches us to take care of our guests. These people or boys who pick up stones to kill someone have no religion,” Mehbooba added.
She also questioned the role of parents and asked what they were turning their children into.
Thirumani and his family were returning from Gulmarg when their vehicle was caught in stone pelting near Magam area of Budgam. A stone hit the young man on his right temple and he was rushed to the Soura Institute of Medical Sciences where he died.
“Can one imagine that the poor father had kept his entire savings to bring his family to Kashmir and he is now returning with the coffin of his son. Is this what we want?”
Asked whether the incident would have an impact on tourism sector, the Chief Minister said, “I can’t be talking about tourism, it is a basic question about humanity. This can’t be Kashmiriyat.”
The incident, she added, will have an impact on the entire concept of Kashmiriyat. “My brother Tasaduq (Mufti, who is the State Tourism Minister) keeps on saying that it’s not about (tourism) industry but about humanity. We are failing on that.”
The Chief Minister said the unfortunate incident of the killing of 23-year-old R Thirumani is heartbreaking which goes against the Kashmiri ethos of hospitality and respect for guests.
“I have no words strong enough to condemn this tragic incident or even condole with the family”, she said. She described the incident as a blot on the cultural value system of Kashmir and an attempt to bulldoze the economy of the place.
Immediately on learning of the incident, the Chief Minister rushed to the Police Hospital, Srinagar and condoled with the parents and co tourists of R Thirumani.
She conveyed the sympathies of the people of the State to the bereaved family while directing the administration to extend all support and help to them in this hour of grief.
The Chief Minister has also expressed concern over the injuries caused to a girl from Handwara in the same incident while wishing her a speedy recovery.