Srinagar : Confronted by tough questions, an angry Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today brought to an abrupt end a joint press conference with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh when her stand on ongoing protests were compared with her position during the 2010 unrest.
Singh, who was seated next to the chief minister on the dais, was seen making gestures to pacify Mehbooba who took on a reporter when reminded about her opposition to use of force and locking up of separatists in 2010 when rival NC leader Omar Abdullah was the Chief Minister
“Muje kya bolenge yeh Sir. maine inke bachon ko bachaya hai Task Force se (What can they tell me. I have saved their kids from Special Task force),” Mehbooba, who lost her cool, retorted with an abrupt “thank you, now you can have a cup of tea”.
The 57-year-old Mehbooba was visibily irritated when a reporter asked her about her stand during 2010 agitation and quoted her interviews in which she had questioned the then government led by Omar Abdullah for using force against children and arrest of Hurriyat leaders.
The reporter while posing a query about her stand during the ongoing unrest in the Valley also made an observation that she and Omar had only changed places it seems.
Mehbooba replied, “this is wrong analysis. In 2010, there was a fake encounter in Machil where three civilians were killed. After that there was rape and murder allegations in Shopian…”
When other reporters wanted to chip in with supplementary questions and clarification, she shouted back “let me complete first and continued “this time an encounter took place in which three militants were killed, how is government responsible for that.
“People came on streets, we imposed curfew. Did the children go to army camps to buy toffees (candy)? Was the 15-year-old boy, who attacked the police station at Damhal Hanjipora (in south Kashmir), going there to get milk. Don’t compare both the things. People had genuine anger that time (2010),” she said.
The 2010 protests were triggered by killing of three youths by Army in a fake encounter in Machil sector of North Kashmir. This case was initially handled by Jammu and Kashmir Police which registered a case against 11 armymen.
The then government led by Omar Abdullah ordered an enquiry and in record time of two months, all the 11 army personnel were chargesheeted. The case was later handled by the Military court.
The army convicted seven soldiers, including two officers, and sentenced them to life imprisonment for a staged killing of three Kashmiri civilians and passing it off as an anti-militancy operation for rewards and remunerations.
In Shopian, two women Neelofar and Aasya, were found dead and it was alleged that they had been raped and murdered.
After a thorugh enquiry by the CBI, it was found that they had drowned in a stream and the allegations of rape, levelled by Mehbooba (who was leader of opposition), was found without any basis after medical examination of one of the victim showed that she was a virgin.
On the deaths in the ongoing protests, Mehbooba said, “Today 95 per cent who have been killed are youngsters belonging to poor families. They were killed in retaliation for attacking security camps… The situations of 2010 and present cannot be compared.”
She again claimed that 95 per cent of people want to resolve the Kashmir issue through political means and dialogue but five per cent people were resorting to agitation.
When asked for reasons for prolonged curfew for past 48 days, she justified saying that five per cent miscreants were planning to make children and youngsters “as shields” for carrying out attacks on security camps.
“These miscreants want to get our children killed or blinded,” she asserted.
Finding her loosing her cool, Singh stepped in with a smile to tell the reporters that they can continue their discussion with the chief minister later.
“I am for resolution of Kashmir issue. There should be dialogue. But by resorting to stone-pelting and attacking the camps, no issue will be resolved. We are not sidelining the issue. We want resolution,” she asserted.