After Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra taunted Mehbooba Mufti for not accepting Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as a terrorist, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir retorted that women in her state are the safest compared with anywhere else in the world.
Speaking at the launch of the Bharat International Travel Bazaar (BITB), Mufti said, "[Compared to] any place in the world, including Delhi, women are safest in my Kashmir. They move around in shikaras and houseboats. That's the biggest thing my state can offer...there is no fear of getting raped in a car."
In the course of an emotionally charged speech, she also added that "the biggest confidence-building measure" for Kashmir would be "if you visit our state." "It shows that you trust us," she continued with her appeal, "We need you, I don't know if you need Kashmir or not, but Kashmir needs you."
Earlier during the event, Mufti reportedly broke down while hearing an audio clip of her father, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, making a plea for more tourism to Kashmir. Shortly afterwards, during her speech, she too invited more investment in the sector.
In his turn, Mishra had asked Mufti, "Do you consider Burhan Wani a terrorist or not?" adding, "it can't be that you don't accept Burhan Wani as a terrorist and then expect tourism to increase. Terrorism and tourism can't go together."
The AAP MP did not stop here. "We can fight Pakistan, but how do we fight with people who give shelter to terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir?" he said. Mishra underlined that it is "painful" to see "terrorists are being treated as tourists in Kashmir." His comments caused a furore at the event, as the organisers asked him not to politicise the proceedings.
In July, shortly after Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani was killed, Mufti had said she would have given Wani "a chance had she known he was trapped in the encounter." Since Wani's death a series of protests against the army and reprisals have led to major unrest in the valley, causing scores of death and injury to citizens there.
(With agency reports.)
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