Mehbooba for talks with stakeholders

Mehbooba for talks with stakeholders

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi the situation in the Valley, following which she made an appeal to protesters to end the violence. 

“I appeal to all those protesting in the streets. You may be angry with me, I may be angry with you. But please give me one chance,” she said, blaming Pakistan for fuelling the unrest in Kashmir.

During her 45-minute meeting with Modi, she sought an institutional mechanism of interlocutors to talk to all stakeholders in Kashmir to carry forward former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy of a dialogue internally as well as with Pakistan.

Mehbooba, also PDP president, called for reviving the reconciliation and resolution process, which was initiated by the then NDA government headed by Vajpayee between 2002 and 2005. She said the intra- and inter-state confidence-building measures initiated during that time had helped transform the situation in the state and region.

The Valley has been under curfew for the last 49 days, following the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani. As many as 71 people were killed and more than 11,000, including 7,000 civilians and 4,000 security personnel, were injured in an unrest the Valley has seen in six years.

This was the first meeting between Modi and Mehbooba after the unrest broke out on July 8. It took place amid indications that the Centre is trying to form a new team to start a dialogue in Kashmir through informal channels and help resolve the crisis. Mehbooba maintained that Modi has the support of all the parties, including Congress and other Opposition parties, on the Kashmir issue.

Her meeting with Modi came two days after Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Srinagar, which was the second in a month, and was seen as the Centre’s outreach to the aggrieved people and an attempt to ease the tension. 

She said the Agenda of Alliance between the PDP and BJP had not been followed, but she now had Modi’s assurance that it will be pushed.

“The problems we are facing today are because the steps that prime minister (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee took - which included a dialogue with Hurriyat - were stopped,” she said.
Mehbooba appealed to the separatists for peace, saying they “will have to help us save the lives” of the youth.

She said the Kashmiri youth were attacking securitymen and police stations after being provoked by Pakistan and separatist leaders.

“I want to tell Pakistan, if it has any sympathy for Kashmiris, it shouldn’t provoke them to attack police stations, and save youth from being killed,” the chief minister said.

She said Pakistan lost a “golden chance” to resolve the Kashmir problem when Modi went to Lahore in December last year and when Home Minister Rajnath Singh visited Islamabad for a Saarc conference early this month.

“It is time for Pakistan to respond (to India) if it wants peace in Kashmir,” she added.

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