Updated: August 30, 2016 12:23:51 pm
Home Minister Rajnath Singh today met Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and discussed the security situation in the state. They held a joint press conference in Srinagar. The home minister was visiting the Valley for the second time since the crisis began and has met close to 300 people since Wednesday. Singh said delegations from almost every political party have met him since he arrived in Srinagar.
“Children are children. If they pick up stones, they must be counselled,” Singh said, appealing to all Kashmiris not to play with the future of youth in the Valley.
The home minister stressed that the future of India cannot exist without the future of Kashmir. “I have said it before also, youth in Kashmir should have pens, books and computers in their hands, not stones,” the minister added.
Singh added that security personnel have been told to exercise maximum restraint and that an alternative to pellet guns will be brought out soon. He also told the media not to question the government’s understanding of the situation.
In the same press conference, Mehbooba reiterated that 95 per cent of people in Kashmir want a peaceful solution through dialogue. ”Only five per cent want to derail the process,” she said.
During his talks with political leaders in the Valley, Singh was told that the Centre needs to initiate dialogue with all stakeholders to find a lasting solution to the Kashmir problem. Singh also held separate meetings with heads of para-military forces and the state police chief to understand their working conditions and also to enquire if they had any operational requirement. Later, a delegation of opposition National Conference led by former chief minister Omar Abdullah met the home minister and urged him to immediately ban the use of pellet guns as a means to control crowds in Kashmir.
Before leaving for Srinagar, the home minister had tweeted saying those who believe in ‘Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat’ were welcome to meet him during his visit. This came on Wednesday when fresh clashes broke out between protestors and security forces in Pulwama district, where one youth was killed. The death toll in the unrest, that broke out in the Valley on July 8 after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, has now climbed to 68.
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