Addressing a joint session with home minister Rajnath Singh, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti lost her cool and abruptly ended a press conference. When journalists asked questions about her role in dealing with the current unrest, she suddenly got up, saying “thank you”, after replying to a question even as Singh was seated. He also then got up reluctantly and the press interaction at her residence.
She condemned the stone pelting and other instances of violence, while home minister Rajnath Singh said, “Children are children. If they pick up stones, they must be counseled,” as he said that the future of India is “not without the future of Kashmir.”
They both urged for peace and Mehbooba clarified her earlier statement where she said that “only five percent” of Kashmir’s population is agitating and said that she meant to say that while 95% of the people want resolution to the problem peacefully, 5% had “hijacked” the issue by indulging in violence.
“I am for resolution of Kashmir issue. There should be dialogue. But by resorting to stone-pelting and attacking the camps, no issue will be resolved. We are not sidelining the issue. We want resolution,” she asserted while saying that “95% of those killed mostly youth have died in retaliatory action while they were attacking the security establishments,” she said. She added, “People have come onto the roads. We imposed curfew. Did the children go to army camps to buy toffees (candy)? Was the 15-year-old boy, who attacked the police station at Damhal Hanjipora (in south Kashmir), going there to get milk?”
Meanwhile Rajnath Singh also said that security personnel have been told to exercise maximum restraint and that an alternative to pellet guns will be brought out soon. He also told the media not to question the government’s understanding of the situation. He also assured the people that “high-level” meetings have been chaired between government and para-military officials to decide the alternate to pellet guns.
The home minister had said prior his visit to Srinagar that those who believe in ‘Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat’ were welcome to meet him during his visit.
On the day of his visit on Wednesday, fresh clashes were reported between protestors and security forces in Pulwama district, where one youth was killed. The death toll in the unrest, that broke out in the Valley on July 8 after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, has now climbed to 68.