SRINAGAR, January 15:

Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today batted for talks with militant leadership in Kashmir and said that maximum efforts should be made for saving local militants.

Mehbooba, who was in South Kashmir today, said that at some stage talks be held with Hurriyat Conference and militants. “I believe that at some stage, talks will have to be held with Hurriyat Conference and militants as well. It is too early (for talks with militants), right now talks should be held with Pakistan and separatists. Similarly, the militant leadership has also to be talked to as it is they who have the gun and only they can end the gun culture”, she said.

The PDP president said that no battle is won by training the guns against the innocent people and instead of turning Kashmir into a theatre of war, the Government of India must initiate reconciliation with Pakistan, dialogue with Hurriyat and declare armistice on the borders.

She stated that the core agenda of her party has always been to facilitate a political process and not just to form a Government. “When for the first time PDP came to power in 2002, dialogue with the separatists was initiated. Then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee from Srinagar extended his hand of friendship to Pakistan and created history when he said that one can change friends but not neighbors. He even promised to resolve Kashmir within the ambit of humanity, opened the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawalakote roads. There were also two rounds of dialogue between the Centre and the Hurriyat Conference and such confidence-building measures put the violence-infested Kashmir subtly back on the track,” she said.

Mehbooba said that local militants are sons of the soil and assets, and maximum efforts been made to save them. “Right from the time I came into politics, I have been saying that local militants are sons of the soil and our maximum efforts should be to save them because they are our assets. If an encounter breaks out, the two people (militants and security forces) come face to face with each other and no one can do anything about it”, she said.

She cautioned the Centre that any tinkering with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir could turn the already strife-torn State into a veritable inferno and will bring more violence, chaos, and destruction.

She said that the emergence of the PDP in the State was like bursting forth of a new revolution and the party since its inception has been striving for people’s dignity and honor on all fronts.

She said as part of the republic, J&K secured its unique position and same cannot in any way be contested in any court of law. “Article 35-A is a matter of life and death for us. No one has the authority to challenge the very identity of people of the State in any court across the world. It is high time that the Central Government should pass a direction, declaring Article 35-A off limits. This sword cannot dangle over our heads all the time,” she said.

Mehbooba said that those launching assaults on State’s integrity on multiple fronts shouldn’t live with the notion that they can any longer terrify people of Kashmir with such tactics. “These elements must understand that the attempts to dull our self-respect and turn us into gluttons have failed in the past and are bound to fail in future also. The Central leadership should know that Kashmir is like a dry grassland with a blazing live coal in its midst. If the wind blew from a contrary direction, the situation in the subcontinent will further destabilize,” she said.

She said that when 2014 polls accorded a fractured mandate to all political groups of the State, PDP made an unpopular decision of forming the Government with the BJP with a sole aim to get the State out of the era of uncertainty and chaos. “The party was hopeful that Modi would behave like Vajpayee but he didn’t and that was a letdown. When in November 2015, a rally was organized by the PDP for Modi, People had come on Mufti Sahib’s call to listen. However, Modi didn’t rise to the occasion and things started falling apart,” she said.

Mehbooba said that BJP ran away from the Government last year only because PDP remained consistently firm on its agenda and refused to sign on the dotted line.

She remarked that in spite of medley of internal troubles in the coalition, the PDP compelled the Government of India to withdraw thousands of cases against the stone pelting youth, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi was made to announce a unilateral ceasefire with Pakistan and offer dialogue with Hurriyat.

On JNU sedition case, she said that in 2013, Congress took Afzal Guru from serial number 28 and hanged him with the aim of beating the BJP (in elections). “Now, the BJP is playing another card. A chargesheet has been filed against Kanhaiya, Umar Khalid and seven or eight Kashmiri students … this seems to be a part of the 2019 elections, just like Afzal Guru (hanging) was part of 2014 elections. This is wrong, it should not happen. The consequences can be very bad”, she said.

Courtesy: DailyExcelsior