Pre-empting Hurriyat, Mehbooba offers rehabilitation package to victims of summer unrest
In a determined bid to rebuild bridges with the people, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has come out with a rehabilitation package for the victims of the state violence during the five month long unrest, something that the Hurriyat which spearheaded the protests hasn’t chosen to do.
In her speech in the Assembly, Mehbooba announced an ex gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh in favour of the next of kin of those killed during the unrest. She said the Government would provide jobs to those completely blinded by the pellet gun fire. The government, Mehbooba said, would also make the arrangements for sending the students to Delhi whose eyesight got affected during the unrest.
What is more, the CM announced the setting up of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe the killing of a lecturer at Khrew, an ATM guard at Karan Nagar. She also announced the setting up of an SIT in each district to investigate the killings and to ascertain whether excessive force was used to deal with the situations.
The CM also said the Government will review the cases of the detained persons and assured that those found least involved will be released. According to state government figures, 508 persons arrested during the unrest are still in custody: 370 in detention under Public Safety Act while 138 are in police custody.
Mehbooba revealed that she had directed the security agencies during the last Unified Command meeting to ensure that the local youth involved in militancy are persuaded to give up gun and that killing them should not be priority of the security agencies.
In another speech, Mehbooba struck a more Kashmir-centric tone, saying J&K has not “emotionally integrated” with India.
Replying to the discussion on Motion of Thanks on the Governor’s address in the Legislative Assembly, the CM said, “Nobody can deny the fact that we have technically integrated with India, but have not emotionally integrated (with India).”
In her recent statements, the CM has made every effort to make the right noises to reach out to her alienated constituency in Kashmir. While this is a task that will be difficult to accomplish considering the memory of the security excesses during the unrest is still raw, but the rehabilitation plan will certainly help her rebuild some broken bridges. For the rehabilitation is something that even Hurryat which champions the cause of the victims hasn’t applied its mind to. The victims and their families have so far been left to fend for themselves. And all of them are bemoaning that nobody has come to their help.
The family of Moin Mushtaq, 11, of Khanyar in downtown Srinagar who was hit in the right eye by pellets has taken him twice to a hospital in Indore where doctors have performed two surgeries on him but the prospects of his regaining the sight look bleak.
“Nobody helped us out,” says his baker father Mushtaq Ahmad. “We had to bear all the expenses ourselves”.
It is here that Mehbooba’s rehabilitation package will be handy and in time may even help her political recovery in the state.