Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said there was a need to “reach out” to people of Jammu and Kashmir, “majority” of whom are for the “idea of Kashmir within idea of India.”
“Some days back, I called these pellet victims and it was really heartbreaking when I saw some of them have lost both eyes. Now 14-year-old, who were just 13 last year, what do they know? How does he know why I am pelting a stone? It’s in the rush of things (that they indulged in stone-pelting). And I saw both their eyes are gone,” Mufti said at “India Ideas Conclave” organised by India Foundation on Friday in Goa.
“I wanted to give them some kind of rehabilitation. Though I tried to help them financially, but you can’t rehabilitate a 14-year-old child, you can just try to give them some education. You can’t give him a job at this age,” she said.
“People have to mould them, reach out to them. It won’t happen by bulldozing them,” she said.
Mehbooba said that there was a sense of helplessness but not hopelessness in the minds of people in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Idea of India is not separate from idea of Jammu and Kashmir because it is the oneness between both. We have had problems in Kashmir for last so many years. We have the baggage of history but to me, having seen Jammu and Kashmir so closely for so many years, there is (a sense of) helplessness but not hopelessness,” she said.
“We have to have a different approach with the people who are with us and majority of the people are with us,” she added.
She said that Jammu and Kashmir at present is under siege with several uncertainties plaguing the life of the people.
“There is mental siege, emotional siege, economic siege, Kashmir is under all kind of siege. You never know there will be a shutdown call followed by curfew and then there will be protest calls,” she said.
She said that “when we think of Pakistan we should not think of Kashmir. When we think of Kashmir we should not think of Pakistan because Kashmir is ours.”
She said that strategically Jammu and Kashmir is placed in a position whereby using “our geography, whereby restoring our roots to the outside world, we can write a different history.”
“Maybe there is a percentage of people who are pro- Pakistan, there is a percentage of people who are pro-azadi. But majority of the people in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh are with the idea of Kashmir as an idea within India,” the chief minister said.
She said Jammu and Kashmir could serve as India’s gateway to Central Asia and the country should tap the state’s strategic potential.
The Chief Minister also said that India should tap the potential which the northern state presents in terms of strategic geographic importance.
“Jammu Kashmir has the potential to become a gateway to Central Asia. Why can’t our country take advantage of that? Kashmir is ours is what Parliament has already said, but we still have Aksai Chin which is with China. It is still there,” she said.
She said the government’s decision to appoint an interlocutor to speak to stakeholders in the region was a positive sign.
“I feel with these things, there is already a political process. The government of India has nominated a representative who has set the ball rolling…” she added.