Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Monday absolved her government of any blame in the deaths during the ongoing demonstrations in the Valley and accused “violent” protesters of creating the current impasse.
Backing police and security personnel, who have faced flak from protesters across the Valley for their alleged strong-armed tactics to control demonstrators, the chief minister, in her first Independence Day address, said injuries to police and security personnel are an indication of “how much they tried (to ensure) there is no casualty”.
Mehbooba also blamed Pakistan for the deteriorating relations between the neighbours and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy and his recent remarks that a solution to the Kashmir problem can be found “through (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee-ji’s doctrine of democracy and humanity”.
Addressing the programme at Bakshi Stadium here, Mehbooba blamed people for letting their children be part of the protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8.
She said: “There is a right to protest in a democracy but these protests should be peaceful. If there is violence, if petrol bombs are hurled, and on occasions grenades are thrown, it becomes difficult…. My duty is to safeguard life and property of those who don’t want to be part of these protests. And while performing this duty, sometimes, even though you don’t like it, bullets were fired, pellet guns were used in which our children and youth died, (and) citizens were injured, which include policemen and security personnel.”
She added: “When you see blood dripping from these policemen, you feel how much the police and security forces have tried (to ensure) there is no casualty.”
But that, she noted, “doesn’t mean no mistakes could have taken place. Where I feel that excesses occurred against my directions, we will seek accountability from the police (and) security forces.”
Countering the attack from some quarters in the Valley for the encounter that killed Burhan Wani, Mehbooba said, “Encoun-ters have happened (earlier also) but I don’t understand what our fault was. Did an encounter take place for the first time? Yesterday, when a militant opened fire and killed a policeman and a civilian in Kulgam, what would you have done against him (the militant)? Would you have asked him to go and kill (others)…or would you have fought him?”
Emphasising that foreign militants would be killed in encounters, Mehbooba said, “My endeavour is to bring back the (Kashmiri) children, who, after 2008, 2009 or 2010, were forced to pick up guns because of excesses…. Our boys shouldn’t pick up guns — if they have picked up (arms), they should shun (violence). Give us some time — give some time to our government.”