Kashmir unrest: Youth being used as shields, says Mehbooba Muftihttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/kashmir-unrest-vested-interests-using-young-children-as-their-shields-says-mehbooba-mufti/

Kashmir unrest: Youth being used as shields, says Mehbooba Mufti

"These selfish people with vested interests made these small children lead attacks on police stations and security forces camps virtually making them act as their shield during stone pelting," she said.

Mehbooba mufti, Jammu and Kashmir, Narendra Modi, Kashmir youth, Kashmir protests, Kashmir violence
Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti addressing the crowd at Bakshi stadium during the celebration of 70th Independence day in Srinagar on Monday. PTI Photo

Describing the killing of Hizul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani as one of the thousands of encounters having taken place in the Valley during the last 25 years, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said those instigating young children to indulge in violence were not Kashmiris, but these selfish and vested interests were making them act as their shields during attacks on police stations and security forces’ camps.

“These selfish people with vested interests made these small children lead attacks on police stations and security forces camps virtually making them act as their shield during stone pelting,” she said, addressing a gathering during the inauguration of the first phase of sewerage treatment plant at Bhagwati Nagar here. Over 60 children have been killed and thousands of others, including police and security forces personnel injured.

She also appreciated the police and security forces for exercising restraint in dealing with the situation. “A large number of the injured include police and security force personnel, which is indicative of the extent of restraint observed by them,” she added. “But when you storm into a camp or snatch guns from cops then at one point of time, a police or CRPF personnel feels that he might get killed,” she said, pointing that “at some places, there had been attempts even to torch camps. “This should not have happened,” she added.

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Mehbooba Mufti’s statement assumes significance as it has come a day after Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had described stone-pelters in the Valley as a “new form of attack by Pakistan on India’s unity and integrity”. He had ruled out any compromise with separatists and those indulging in violence.

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Some people talk of 2010, but then people had got angry three civilians were apprehended at one place and killed in a fake encounter, she said, adding there were also allegations at that time about rape and subsequent murder of two girls at Shopian and also instances of children walking on the road getting killed after getting hit by teargas shells. However, nothing of this sort had happened today as neither any innocent civilian was killed nor any excesses took place against any person, she added.

“Three militants were killed during an encounter in an area and no one was at fault in it,” she said, adding that “this has been going on for the last 25 years”. “Thousands of encounters have taken place in which thousands of security forces personnel, police men, militants and even innocents have been killed. But so much of unrest has never been witnessed earlier,” she added.

There were already preparations by vested interests who were looking for an opportunity to push Jammu and Kashmir once again into turmoil as they had realised that the present PDP-BJP government, if it becomes stable, would re-start implementing the agenda of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and former Chief Mufti Sayeed for peace, progress and development from the point it was abandoned in 2004-05, she added. To fuel unrest, they first tried to rake up Handwara and then setting up of one or the other colony in the Valley, but failed to get any response, she added.

“However, they got an excuse into the killing of three militants (including Burhan Wani) during the encounter, she pointed out. Asking opponents of her government to protest if they wanted to do so, she regretted that they, however, have been taking along with them young children to snatch gun from cops inside the police posts and throw petrol bombs, she added.

This has resulted in death of over 60 young children and injuries to thousands of others who, however, had to be at home with their parents. “By taking them along for attacking a police station under curfew restrictions, these vested interests are making these children act as their shield,” she said, recalling that at one point of time her party had fought against security forces, police and even task force using local people as human shield during searches to flush out militants.

“The very same young people whom we had convinced that security forces, police and the task force will not do any harm to them if they did not commit any wrong, these selfish and vested interests by inciting them attack police stations and security forces camps were making them shields,” Mehbooba Mufti said. They are only a handful of people as most of the Kashmirs are peace-loving people who want development. They are wise enough to understand that the freedom they have is not available in countries who claim themselves to be independent, she added.

Invoking Vajpayee, she appealed the Central government and also the Congress leaders in Delhi to work for steering people of Kashmir out of present situation. Ninty five per cent of the Kashmiris are not with the 5 per cent people indulging in violence and it is not proper to punish all of them. They all are our own people, she added.