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In Kashmir, Rajnath Singh says there will soon be alternative to pellet guns


Srinagar: As the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir continued for the 48th day, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said an alternative to pellet guns will be proposed within a few days in the wake of widespread criticism of the crowd-control device that has left thousands of people in the Valley blinded.

Declaring there is no future for India without Kashmir, Singh again invoked Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy of ‘Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat’ (Kashmir’s pluralist ethos, humanity and democracy) again to signal that the NDA government was ready for dialogue with anyone.

“We want to shape future of India. If future of Kashmir is not shaped, future of India cannot be shaped too,” Singh, with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti by his side, told reporters on the second day of his visit to Kashmir–his second in one month–as part of Centre’s outreach to people of Kashmir.

Singh said an expert committee set up by the Home Minister and mandated to look for an alternative to pellet guns is expected to give its report in two-three days.

Replying to a question on use of pellet guns against violent protesters, the Home Minister said as promised during his last visit to Kashmir Valley, he has constituted an expert committee which would submit its report within two months. “It is just one month and report of that committee will come within two-three days. Within few days, we will give an alternative to pellet guns.”

“In 2010, it was said pellet gun is a non lethal weapon which can cause least damage but now we feel that there should be some alternate to this,” he said.

The Home Minister signalled that the NDA government was ready for dialogue. “I will only say that we are willing to talk to anyone within the ambit of Jamhooriyat, Kashmiriyat and Insaniyat,” he said, avoiding a direct reply when asked whether the government was willing to talk to Hurriyat.

The Home Minister said young children and youths, who should have taken pen or laptops, have picked up stones to pelt on security forces. “Who are these people, who has given them permission to take up stones. Can they guarantee to shape their (youths) future. We see future of Kashmiri children linked to the future of Indian children.”

“I appeal to Kashmiri people to identify those who are trying to create such a situation in the Valley. Without the future of Kashmir, the future of India cannot exist,” he said.

The Home Minister said the security forces were told to exercise maximum restraint while dealing with people, who have been protesting in different parts of the Kashmir Valley after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani on July 8.

“Security personnel told to exercise restraint and they are exercising maximum restraint and also bearing the brunt of protesters and as a result 4,500 security personnel have been injured so far.”

“I would also like to appeal to everyone not to forget the role of security personnel during the floods in Kashmir (in 2014),” he said.

The Home Minister said those misguided youths who are picking up stones should be counselled. “If some misguided youths are picking stones then such youths must be counselled. Children are children. We cannot think of separating the future of Kashmir with the future of India,” he said.

Singh said the government has identified those elements who are trying to mislead some of our youths in Kashmir. He appealed to those people, who are misleading the youths in Kashmir, not to play with the future of the children of the Valley.

Singh said an all-party delegation will soon visit Jammu and Kashmir to interact with cross sections of people and the Chief Minister has been told to make arrangements for the same.

Replying to a question on central government’s understanding of the prevailing situation in Kashmir, the Home Minister said, “Do not question our understanding of the situation. We are trying to find a solution”.

He said the central government will soon appoint a nodal officer to help Kashmiris in distress living in other parts of the country.

Singh said more than 20 delegations and about 300 people met him during the two-day visit and all of them conveyed to him that they all want peace in Kashmir. “We are also sad over the situation in the Valley.”

The Chief Minister said 95 per cent people of Jammu and Kashmir want a peaceful solution through dialogue and just five per cent are derailing the whole process. “95 per cent people of the state don’t want violence, they want peace. We have to reach out to them,” she said. Mehbooba said no solution can be found from stone pelting and attacking security camps.

The Chief Minister said focus of the central government and political parties should be those 95 per cent Kashmiris who do not want to create trouble, who do not want to attack establishment for vested interests. “Let us differentiate between those people who want peaceful resolution through dialogue, reconciliation and those who train poor children to pelt stones on roads and camps.”

“I hope focus should be those people who want reconciliation and within the ambit of Insaniyat, like Vajpayee had said. People who create trouble will be dealt as per law. They will not be allowed to make life hell for majority here,” she said.

Mehbooba said Kashmiri youths are being used by some elements as shields to attack Army camps as “they want our children to suffer”.

The Chief Minister also said that situation in 2016 can’t compared with that of 2010 as then it was triggered following an alleged fake encounter and an alleged rape while this was the unrest began after killing of three militants.

The Home Minister said whenever a Kashmiri youth or security personnel are killed, the entire country suffers that pain. “Can we not pull out Kashmir from such situation? I would like to appeal every one – every brother and sister of Kashmir to not play with the future of Kashmiri youth,” he said.


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