Amid continued turbulence that has rocked Kashmir valley for the last 38 days, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today made an emotional appeal to agitating youth not to be misled by vested interests who want to keep the valley burning and maintained that dialogue is the only way to resolve issues.
In her maiden Independence Day address as Chief Minister, Mehbooba cautioned that Kashmir should not be allowed to become another Syria or Afghanistan where there is instability and absence of safety of life.
She urged the people to give her time so that she could work on the plans and programmes she had charted for peace and progress of the state and that they should not be misled by false propaganda about attempts to erode the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
She blamed the successive central leaderships, starting from Jawaharlal Nehru, for the problems of Kashmir and hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the issues, completing the process started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Speaking in the backdrop of over month-long unrest in the valley triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, she underlined that any remedy could be found only through dialogue in the "great" Indian democracy.
With regard to protests over Wani's killing in a gunbattle on July 8, Mehbooba said, "it is not that an encounter has happened in Kashmir for the first time...
Children should not be indulging in agitation. They should be going to schools and colleges. It is not for children to solve big issues... Parents should also ensure that their children do not go out where their lives could be in danger."
She said "vested interests" were misleading the youth and making them a "shield" to pursue their nefarious designs, while their own kids are tucked away in safety.
"I will not talk about the separatists but about the middlemen for whom it (stone pelting) is a business. Find out where their children are while innocent kids are being used for protests," she said.
Noting that the current unrest had taken a toll on education in the valley, she asked, "What will I do with the IITs, IIMs, Law college and five medical colleges when those who had to study there have been blinded. Who is responsbile for it?"
Mehbooba said while she felt pained over the injuries and casualties among civilians, she felt equally bad for security personnel who also have been wounded in equal number just because they exercised maximum restraint.
They security forces have come to the valley from far off places like Bihar and Karnataka leaving their children and families behind just to perform their duties, she said.
At the same time, she said, "Wherever I feel anyone from forces has violated the directions for maximum restrain, action will be taken. This is not a mere statement. It will be done and you will be told about it." .