Srinagar: Whosoever is ready to reject violence and help in restoring peace should be engaged in a dialogue to address the Kashmir problem, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said today while not being averse to involving the separatists if they are looking for a peaceful resolution.
At the same time, she said a “conducive atmosphere” needs to be created for a dialogue to take place and the “bunch of people” provoking youth to “gherao and attack” security camps should stop abetting violence.
Mehbooba, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here yesterday to discuss the future course of action, also emphasised that the format of dialogue should be better than in the past when the central governments had nominated interlocutors and set up working groups.
She told PTI in an interview that “threads” need to be picked up from where these were left by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had made a “very serious effort” by having dialogue both on external front with Pakistan and on internal front with Hurriyat and Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit.
“What I am concerned about and told the Prime Minister is that people have lost faith in dialogue. So first dialogue as an institution has to be restored,” Mehbooba said amid the unrest which has been going on in Kashmir for the last 51 days resulting in the killing of 68 people.
“We need to put people who have very credible backgrounds and can communicate with the other side,” she added while noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh have expressed readiness for talks for “some kind of solution to this problem”.
Emphasising that “whosoever wants a solution to the Kashmir problem should understand that solution is not going to come in days or months”, she said “do we make life so miserable for all that time the solution comes? Do we want our boys to get killed? Do we want them to do something which is going to have retaliation and injuries? That is something for everyone to think.”
Asked who all should be engaged in the dialogue, the Chief Minister said the central government should talk to “whosoever is ready to reject violence and not support violence and helps in restoring peace.”
On being asked whether talking to Hurriyat will help, she said that dialogue should be held with “everybody who wants peaceful resolution and is ready to contribute in containing the situation.”
Suggesting that there should be peace before talks are initiated, she said, “Today there is no alternative to dialogue but for dialogue (to happen), you need to have conducive atmosphere.”
Maintaining that nothing will be achieved through violence, Mehbooba said killings and deaths only “further complicate” the issue rather than help solve it.
In this context, the Chief Minister noted that Kashmir has been witnessing violence for the last 27 years but nothing has been achieved, except for killings which have left children orphaned and women widowed.
In a message to Hurriyat and other separatist groups, she said, “If they want to save young and precious lives, they need to tell them the truth that these killings, deaths are not going to solve the problem but these further complicate the issue. It also hijacks the basic issue and gives it a tinge of violence.
“The whole world is fed up with violence. Nobody is ready to listen to the voice of violence. So whatever can be resolved peacefully, should be resolved peacefully.”
Mehbooba told the Hurriyat leaders that “whatever influence” they have on the young boys who indulge in violence, they should use it to see that some sense prevails.
“They (Hurriyat leaders) should feel about these young boys like we feel about our own children. Because if we let them go and attack camps (of security forces) and make them emotional that this is going to resolve the Kashmir problem, we are not being honest. We are misleading them and putting them in a very dangerous spot,” she underlined.
Referring to Hurriyat’s call to people last week to ‘gherao’ army cantonment in Badami Bagh in Srinagar yesterday, she said, “It is not done. If you are asking those young boys to go near these camps or ambush people, what is going to be the result?”
Asked whether these provocative actions are being deliberately undertaken, the Chief Minister said, “That is something that should not happen because every attack on security forces’ establishment means somebody is injured even if there is maximum restraint” by security personnel.
“They (Hurriyat leaders) should use their influence, whatever they have, to see there are no casualties,” she said.
“Who are these people who want violence? Those interested in resolving the issue fully understand and should understand that violence for the last 27 years has given nothing except so many people having died. It has not resolved anything,” she said.
Mehbooba said the “bunch” of people, who are “motivated” or “influenced” and take to streets in a “very violent manner” “are not causing only injuries to themselves but they are also hijacking and making things very difficult for the rest of the population who are for peaceful resolution (of Kashmir tangle).”
On whether an interlocutor should be appointed for talks, she said, “It is for the Prime Minister and the NDA government to see how to go about in a better manner than has happened in the past. You tried interlocutors, working groups etc but the people with whom dialogue has to happen, they also need to use their influence, whatever they have, to calm the situation.”
She described Kashmir problem as “the biggest challenge for any Prime Minister” since Independence when the state took the decision of acceding to India by rejecting the two-nation theory.
“Then why did things go in the reverse direction? Kashmiri people were the ones who drove out (Pakistani) invaders and stood up against Pakistan whenever there was a chance. But somewhere something happened… there was a lot of distrust,” she said.
“I think every government has tried to restore that confidence, may be sometimes half-heartedly, sometimes not in the right way,” Mehbooba said.
Noting that Vajpayee made a serious effort, she hoped that Modi will carry forward that process.
“The Prime Minister understands his strengths, his authority. After a long, long time, we have a Prime Minister who has come with such a huge mandate and he understands that. With such kind of mandate, he can use it to find some kind of way out to this human problem, this human tragedy.
“I think he is trying his best. He went to Lahore… Here is a Prime Minister who walks into there (Lahore)..But unfortunately, you had Pathankot (terror attack),” she said.
She said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also wanted to find some solution to Kashmir and wished to go to Pakistan but could not go there “for whatever reasons”.
The previous UPA government as well as the NC-Congress government in the state “could not pick up the threads where Vajpayee had left and then there was vaccuum and disillusionment”, she said.