Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Friday pressed for urgent de-escalation of the situation on the border and said India and Pakistan should take immediate and effective measures to revive the process of comprehensive and composite dialogue. She said it is time for Pakistani political leadership to reciprocate and consider giving peace a chance in the region.
Mehbooba, who conducted an extensive tour of areas like Nowshera, Poonch and Rajouri along the LoC affected by Pakistani shelling, expressed grave concern over the plight of the people living near the frontiers where a “distressing situation” has been created with loss of lives and destruction of properties. She interacted with the affected families and took on- the-spot appraisal of the measures put in place by the administration to provide necessary support and help to them.
“There is urgency of de-escalating the situation. There is no alternative to peace and reconciliation and New Delhi and Islamabad should take immediate and effective measures to revive the process of comprehensive and composite dialogue,” she said. Instead of squandering their resources on “meaningless conflict”, India and Pakistan can be of great help to each other in their fight against the common challenges of poverty and economic deprivation in the region.
Recalling the tenure of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mehbooba said due to various internal and external initiatives taken during the period, peace prevailed along the borders and the people living there were happy as the guns remained silent. “Today again, the leadership of our country, with a strong support and backing, will find a way out as wars do not help address any issue,” the Chief Minister said.
Citing examples of war-like situations in various countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, she said wars have resulted in complete destruction of once most prosperous countries and annihilation of their cultures and civilizations. She said, “our political leadership did take the initiative to revive the process of reconciliation with Pakistan when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Lahore (on December 25 last year) but then Pathankot (Airbase attack) happened and everything came to a standstill.”
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Mehbooba said when the nation was divided on the basis of religion in 1947, Jammu and Kashmir, rising above religious lines, believed in brotherhood and inclusiveness. “However, it is since these last 70 years of that division that the state has been facing this issue that has resulted in huge challenges to it,” the Chief Minister said.
While interacting with the affected people at Nowshera, Manjakote, Rajouri and Poonch, she expressed deep grief and pain over the loss of lives and damage to the property in the border shelling. She said the government is alive to the situation and various measures are being taken for the people affected by the shelling.
The Chief Minister said under the new scheme announced by the government of India, next of kin of those who have died in the border firing shall get an ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh. She said the families who lost their cattle will also be compensated under SDRF norms. She gave away cheques of the initial amount/installment to the next of kin of those who died in the border firing.
The Chief Minister also visited the make-shift camp where the people from the affected border villages have been shifted and took stock of the arrangements put in place for them. She asked the officers concerned to ensure that all necessary arrangements are made to make their stay comfortable including ration, power, water and bedding.
Later, the Chief Minister also chaired meetings of district administration separately at Rajouri and Poonch wherein she was briefed by the respective Deputy Commissioners about the measures taken to address the issues arising out of border shelling. In Rajouri, the Chief Minister was informed about the arrangements put in place and measures taken with respect to evacuation of people from the worst affected villages to safer areas in make-shift camps.