J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today asked the J&K Police to work towards bringing the local militants back to the mainstream and ensuring that they will pick up bat and ball instead of machine guns. She once again promised to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, provided there was peace.
“Our children have gone into militancy. My appeal to the police is to try to see that they return home,” Mehbooba said in her speech at the Police Commemoration Day Parade. “Those who are missing for years, if possible, instead of encounters in which they are killed, if you bring them back home and if they can become a part of the mainstream. If we can hand them a bat or a ball instead of guns.”
This was only the second speech, Mehbooba has delivered since Kashmir tipped into turmoil following the killing of the popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 8. Her earlier address was on the Independence Day.
However, unlike her public comments in the past three months which generated public resentment in Kashmir, the CM today was more restrained and politically correct. She said she wanted to lift AFSPA, punish the security personnel responsible for excesses and ban the use of pellet guns, provided she got time to work in peace.
“I want to ban pellet guns but it is possible only if you people support the government,” she said.
“I would ensure that those guilty of the killing of a teacher in Khrew, an ATM guard and young Junaid are punished”.
A teacher Shabir Ahmad was beaten to death by army in Khrew near Pampore on August 17 while an ATM guard Reyaz Ahmad and sixth standard student Junaid Ahmad were killed by security forces in Chattabal and Eidgah areas of Srinagar on August 3 and October 7 respectively.
Taking an oblique dig at the separatist leaders, she said some “great leaders” were using the children as human shields for their agendas.
“Our children are always used as shields,” she said adding that we can’t force anyone to talk by throwing stones at them. “If we need a dialogue, we have to stop throwing stones. We have to stop militancy”.
Similarly, the CM said that for AFSPA to go, peace was a pre-requisite.
“We have to create an environment of peace and tranquillity in Jammu and Kashmir, AFSPA is not permanent,” she said while referring to the draconian law that gives immunity to armed forces which gives immunity from civil prosecution to the armed forces allegedly involved in excesses in Kashmir.