Angry over hard-hitting questions, Mehbooba, Rajnath walk-out of press conference

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, and Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, addressed a press conference in Srinagar on Thursday afternoon in which Singh announced the central government’s decision to send an all-party delegation to Kashmir valley.

It was the first time that Mufti addressed press since the anti-India agitation started on July 8.

The Chief Minister said there was a need to differentiate between those who want resolution of Kashmir issue with dialogue and those who were pushing children towards violence. Focus should be on those people who believe in peaceful resolution and we will take legal action against those who want to create violence and make Kashmir hell for those who want peace, Mufti said.

Mufti and Singh left the press conference after a senior journalist recalled her tough stand against the government during 2010 turmoil, when over 120 civilians were killed. “What happened in 2010 had a reason. There was a fake encounter in Machil. Also a rape and murder case in 2009,” she said, adding that the government had not done anything wrong this time by killing the militants.

“95 percent people who have died this time are from poor families and have died in retaliatory action against attacks on security forces,” she said. “95 percent people of Kashmir want to solve the issue with peaceful means. The miscreants are using our children as shields and sending them to attack camps,” she angrily said.

As more tough questions started coming her way, Mehbooba rose from her chair, saying, “Thank you very much. Have tea.”

Earlier in the press conference, Singh, who arrived in Kashmir valley yesterday, said he was ready to have a dialogue with those who believe in “Insaniyat, Jamhooriat, Kashmiriyat” (Humanity, Democracy, Kashmir). He said he met odd 20 delegations of “different opinions” since yesterday.

The Home Minister said, “I have told Mehbooba ji that we want to send an all-party delegation and there should be full preparation here so that they come here and talk to people.”

Singh appealed the people of Kashmir not to “play with the future of youth” in the valley. He said the government wanted the future of Kashmiri youth to be at part with those in others parts of India. India’s future won’t e possible without Kashmir’s future, he said.

Singh said some people wanted to create unrest in the valley. “I appeal to the people of Kashmir to identify those who want to create such situation,” he said.

“Some of our youths who take up stones in their hands should be counselled,” Singh said. “Children are children, if they pick up stones, they must be counselled.”

Regarding the use of pellet guns, Singh said the committee that was asked to prepare a report on it is expected to submit the report within two to three days. “Within few days, we will find an alternative to pellet guns.”

“We have told our security forces to observe maximum restrains and they are doing so. More than 4,500 security personnel have been injured so far,” he said.

Regarding recent deployment of Border Security Force (BSF) personnel in Srinagar, Singh said it was not the time to discuss the issue. “Forces have been deployed earlier too and same is the case this time,” he said.