Time not ripe for AFSPA revocation: Mehbooba

Ready to go to hell to save Kashmir      /      Slams separatists for ‘Chalo calls’

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Feb 2: Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said today that situation was not conducive for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir even as she described “Mufti Sayeed’s Vision” of opening more cross-LoC roots and strengthening people-to-people contact between two parts of Kashmir as only viable solution to the Kashmir problem. Click here to watch video
In her 47 minutes speech on the grants of her Departments in the Legislative Assembly, Mehbooba once again took on the separatists slamming frequent “Chalo calls” given by them saying it leads to violence with youths becoming victims and also denounced them for using Mosques for holding meetings saying the people were fed up with such calls and want peace. She also referred to the taunt of National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and said she was ready to go to the hell if it helps the people of Kashmir.
Responding to the demand made by CPM veteran MY Tarigami on revocation of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba said: “we too want that this should end. Footprints of the security forces should be reduced. But is it realistic in a situation when large number of people are gathering at the sites of encounters and pelt stones on security forces?”
She said she too wants that footprints of security forces should be reduced and AFSPA go but presently situation is not like that.
“The more there will be use of guns and stones, there will be more footprints of security forces. Even when I was in Opposition, I too got many bunkers and camps of security forces removed but in 2017, people came to us saying they need camps as the militants won’t come in the areas where there will be camps. And when there will be no militants, there will be no searches,” she quoted people as saying.
Only a week back, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat had stated that situation was not conducive for revocation of AFSPA in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mehbooba described Army as “most disciplined force” and “an institution” saying if someone was wrong, law is there to take action
“This is not the first time that any action was initiated against Army,” she said referring to registration of FIR against the Army in connection with Shopian killings. She clarified that no counter FIR has been lodged by the Army but the troops have given their version of the incident, which is part of the FIR. “We have to listen both (during investigations).”
Mehbooba projected her father and PDP founder late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s “Kashmir Vision’ as the only viable solution to Kashmir.
“Whether we accept it after 10, 20 or even 50 years, Mufti’s Vision of opening of all cross-LoC routes, people-to-people contacts between two parts of Kashmir, regular meetings between them to promote tourism, environment and disaster management or meeting each other’s requirements, will be the ultimate solution,” she said and batted for opening of Suchetgarh-Sialkot, Kargil-Askardu, Nowshera-Janghar, Turtuk and other such routes.
Mehbooba also batted for implementation of recommendations of five Working Groups, which were set up during UPA Government by the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh but their reports continued to gather dust.
“All major political parties including PDP, National Conference, BJP, Panthers Party and many individuals are signatory to the Working Group reports. There is nothing outside the Constitution in the report. There is nothing in the reports which will compromise Constitution or sovereignty of the country. Even Jammu and Kashmir Constitution will not be compromised,” she said while endorsing the Working Group reports.
She said though all political parties have their own agenda, all of them were united on Working Group reports. “Even BJP and Congress at the national level are almost on same page as far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned”.
With Omar drawing a parallel between the PDP-BJP alliance and the “deal with the devil”, Mehbooba said she can accept going to hell to save Kashmir.
Responding to Omar’s comments, Mehbooba said she doesn’t believe in mythology and stories.
“Now, he (Omar) has left by giving me fatwa of going to hell but I feel that God has given us the paradise – the paradise of Kashmir,” Mehbooba said.
She said, “I can accept going to hell a hundred times to save this paradise. I will be happy to do that if I can be able to bring people out of this hell here. It will not be a big price for me to pay.”
Mehbooba said she can sacrifice herself if people of Jammu and Kashmir could get rid of their agony and pain.
She said it was the mission of former Chief Minister and her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to pull the people of the state out of the vicious circle of violence.
Asserting that the BJP is not a weak party as they have world’s largest membership and mandate to rule the country, Mehbooba said the PDP had entered into alliance with the BJP for a purpose. Congress too had offered us for tie-up. “We shouldn’t insult the people, who have given their mandate to the BJP in the country as well as in Jammu,” she asserted.
Taking on the separatists, albeit without naming the Hurriyat Conference etc, the Chief Minister slammed their ‘Chalo calls’ saying they were leading to violence, making youths the victims.
“Why don’t they (the separatists) spare the Mosques. Today again, there were no prayers in Jamia Masjid. Separatists are using Mosques for holding meetings. People of downtown are fed up with all this. They want peace,” she said.
Regretting decision of the separatists for closing doors of dialogue (with Dineshwar Sharma), she said the horse can be taken to river stream but no one can force it to drink water.
Responding to the jibe of Omar Abdullah that Centre was announcing decisions like release of stone pelters, which should have been taken by the State Government, Mehbooba said she was happy that both Centre and State were on same page on the issue.
“North Pole and South Pole (a term used by Mufti Sayeed for PDP-BJP alliance) are meeting each other. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that Kashmiris have to be embraced. The decisions are part of this policy. This is a good step,” she remarked and said the Government was trying to reach out to the youth.
Again batting for talks with Pakistan, the Chief Minister said: “Jammu and Kashmir is strategically placed. We often keep shouting asking US to ban Pakistan. We have to understand Pakistan’s strategically important position. We too need to understand importance of our strategic position”.
She said wars between the two neighbours have failed to serve purpose as after every war, talks had to be held to resolve issues.
“There was Shimla agreement after one of the wars. There were talks in Agra after Kargil and then ceasefire on the borders. Today, there is tension on borders. Schools are closed. Students and people are suffering,” she said, adding that only talks were the solution to problems between the two countries.
“We cannot change history but we can leverage our geography to reduce the acrimony with our neighbours & bring lasting peace to the subcontinent without compromising the sovereignty of our nation, Mehbooba said.
Mehbooba said the mainstream leadership had played major role in integration of the State. “We are taking forward what Sheikh Abdullah and others had decided”.
Denying that sanctity of District Development Boards or the institution of an MLA has been eroded due to her ‘Public Outreach Programme’, Mehbooba said she met the people from all walks of life including MLAs but in the form of only delegations so that there was no bitterness.
“The DDBs and MLAs have their own role to play,” she said, denying that the Deputy Commissioners have been asked to divert funds for the works approved during her programmes.
“A number of demands raised by the delegations have been met, which pertained to colleges, schools, roads etc. The proposals have been sent to various Departments,” she said, adding she has covered 14 districts and will like to cover all.
Mehbooba lashed out at the national media for inviting such people for debates, who have nuisance value.
“They (the national Television channels) don’t involve saner voice. This leads to further polarization,” she lamented.
On questions raised by Omar as to who were second time stone pelters, the Chief Minister said the Government was watching the result of first time amnesty and if they will be positive, then they can consider second time also.
Mehbooba Mufti said recently a group of legislators met her and expressed the desire to visit Sharda Peth across the LoC. She said she was happy to see a media report recently that a Court there had directed proper upkeep of the said shrine. She said she has maintained it a number of times that Jammu & Kashmir is strategically placed and is rich in natural resources. “Why can’t this feature be utilised to derive maximum benefits to the State and the country”?, she asked.
On the developmental front, the Chief Minister said she has directed adoption of a three pronged strategy of Connectivity, Productivity & Employability while taking up developmental projects in the State. She said her Government has undertaken financial closure of the developmental projects which would otherwise keep on lingering for years together. She said Rs. 200 crore worth drinking water schemes are being projected for NABARD funding.
Mehbooba said the projects taken up by the Government for execution are being fully funded and their time of completion is fixed at their launch time. She said employees were engaged without salaries in the past and this practice has been put to an end. Work on five Medical Colleges, she said, is apace and staff has also been created so that these colleges are operationalized as soon as these are completed.
Mehbooba said one of the biggest achievements of her Government has been that all the recruitments in police and civil administration have been made in a transparent manner and through a merit driven process. She said cadre review of various services in the State is being done to remove stagnation and induce motivation among the officers.
The cut motions which were moved by the members were withdrawn after the satisfactory reply by the Chief Minister.
Later, the House passed the grants amounting to Rs 9449.19 crore for the departments under the charge of the Chief Minister with a voice vote.