Themorningbellbd.com desk, August 25: In India’s Kashmir for a fresh outreach after nearly 70 have been killed in clashes over a month, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today indicated the government’s willingness to talk to separatists and also said an alternative to pellet guns – which have caused massive injuries among protesters – is on the way.
Asked whether the government would talk to the separatist Hurriyat leaders, Mr Singh said: “We are willing to talk to anyone within the scope of Kashmiriyat, Jamooriyat and Insaniyat.” He also said that an all-party delegation would visit Kashmir, where 10,000 have been injured in clashes after the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who was also at the press conference, lost her cool when journalists asked her tough questions.
Mr Singh was seen smiling and trying to pacify the Chief Minister. In a few moments, he stood up after she called an end to the press conference declaring, “thank you very much.”
Ms Mufti was infuriated when a journalist raised what many allege is disproportionate use of force on protesters and accused her of swapping roles and views with her predecessor Omar Abdullah on the protests.
As opposition leader, the journalist said, Ms Mufti had criticised the Omar Abdullah government in 2010 for civilian killings.
“Don’t mix or compare the two situations. In 2010 there was a fake encounter. Today three militants were killed, how is the government to be blamed?” she snapped, adding that protesters defied curfew.
“Had a kid gone to buy a toffee from an army camp? A 15-year-old boy who attacked a police station, had he gone to buy milk? Don’t compare the two,” said Ms Mufti, emphasizing that “stone-throwing and protesting is not a solution.”
The home minister is on a two-day visit to Kashmir to review security and interact with civil society groups, political parties and other stakeholders as part of the efforts recently promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.