Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti Monday drew flak for her remarks that Kashmiris protest for months first and then seek money from New Delhi for business losses.
“Kashmiri people beat their chests for months and then settle down again demanding waivers and incentives for the losses,” local newspapers had quoted Mehbooba as saying at a gathering of businessmen in Srinagar on Sunday.
“We as a people have to ponder what we are doing. First, we protest then we come with a bowl asking for money,” she had said, adding “we start agitating on any issue particularly during the summer months, bringing all the activities to a standstill, which has hit our economy badly.”
Reacting to Mehbooba’s remarks, the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL) comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik castigated Mehbooba for “mocking and insulting the people of Kashmir and their supreme sacrifices by calling them agitators first and beggars later.”
In a statement, the JRL said that “love for chair has completely blinded her and her ilk of opportunists to see what havoc they have unleashed upon the people of Kashmir since their alliance with the BJP.”
“Each day a new hell is let loose on the people through the various agencies of occupation that she presides over, to break the will and determination of the people for demanding the just resolution of internationally recognised Kashmir dispute as per peoples will and aspirations,” the statement said.
Mehbooba had also said that “other than Kashmir, people nowhere in the world inflict so much pain on themselves.”
“What have the people of Kashmir achieved in the past 30 years by such self-pain inflicting protests? An inch of land hasn’t moved on any side. We have to think about it…every Kashmiri feels relaxed after crossing the Jawahar Tunnel, even boys pelting stones in Kashmir go to Jammu and watch movies in theatres there,” she said, according to the Greater Kashmir daily.
“We close our shops and doors when somebody from New Delhi comes to Kashmir but then afterwards we go to them asking for money. It becomes very difficult for the government to plead cases as they (Centre) talk about it,” she said, adding that people of India are “debating among themselves why Kashmiris pelt stones on tourists when the central government is allocating so many funds for them.”
Mehbooba said “they are baffled because of the fact that we pelt stones on them when they come here even though so much money is given to us.”
Citing dip in tourism flow following the attack on Amarnath pilgrims, Mehbooba said that those seeking solution to the Kashmir issue through agitation needed to be told from time to time that Kashmiris are in a “serious state of loss.”
“The hopelessness on the faces traders and businessmen present here has depressed me also. But then we need to decide as to what we want,” she said, adding that businessmen in Kashmir are seeking waivers of debt today “only because of the agitations we bring on to harm ourselves.”
She said that last year, the tourism influx had picked but “on 8th July 2016 there were around 13,000 tourists who had come, but then in some hours hell broke loose and people were on streets.”
The JRL said that “a false binary between tourism and terrorism was created to target those associated with trade and tourism in order to break the back of both these industries.”
“GST laws that ended Kashmir’s fiscal autonomy in total violation of Article 370 were implemented and the return of our power projects outrightly rejected.”
JRL said that people of Kashmir “bore the brunt of all these extreme repressive measures with bravery and resilience that GoI (Government of India) was compelled to relook at its policy on Kashmir. No segments of society succumbed to this tremendous pressure including our traders and business community despite the fact that they were severely affected by the policy of revenge and punishment to which the local quislings were willing partners or mute spectators.”
The JRL also expressed “surprise and dismay that some traders and members of the business community played into the hands of the collaborators and gave them an opportunity to insult the supreme sacrifices offered by the nation.”