BHABRA August 9 (PTI): India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reached out to the people of turbulent Kashmir and indicated willingness to have a dialogue under the framework of ‘Insaniyat (Humanity), Jamhuriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmirihood).
But his party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has ruled out the offer of any new political package to settle the conflict which has so far claimed 58 lives.
Both Modi and his party are offering economic development and employment opportunities as a carrot to pacify Kashmiri youth who have been violently agitating since the July 8 killing of the 24 year old militant separatist leader Burhan Wani by the Security Forces.
Breaking his silence on the over-a-month-long unrest in the Muslim majority Kashmir Valley, Modi said that it is painful to see innocent youngsters, who should be holding “laptops, books and cricket bats”, being given stones to throw.
He appealed to them to maintain peace and harmony in Kashmir which he described as “heaven on earth”.
“Kashmir has the freedom enjoyed by Indians everywhere else,” he said, and asserted that the Mehbooba Mufti government and the Centre are working together to solve the state’s problems.
“But some people, who are unable to digest it, are on a destructive path,” he regretted.
“When Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister he had adopted the path of Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat and we are walking the same road. I want to tell the brothers and sisters of Kashmir from Bhabra the birthplace of Chandra Shekhar Azad that Kashmir has the same strength that has been given to (other parts of) India by our freedom fighters. Kashmir has the same freedom that every Indian has.”
“Today, one feels pained to see that innocent youths have been handed stones. The politics of some people is clicking but what will happen to these gullible and simple youth? The path of democracy and dialogue is there for us to take,” Modi told a public meeting here, the birthplace of freedom fighter Chandra Shekhar Azad.
The Prime Minister hailed other political parties, especially the Congress, for speaking in one voice on the Kashmir issue, calling it the strength of India.
“We would like to move forward with this strength,” he said.
The Kashmir government, in which BJP is a partner, along with the Central government, is working towards the state’s development. His government would do everything to help lawyers, doctors, those depending on tourism and apple growers in their endeavors, Modi said.
“The common man in Kashmir wants peace,” Modi said.
No Political Package, Says BJP
Meanwhile, reporting from Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, The New Indian Express said that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not announce any political package to end the ongoing turmoil.
“We have given lot of liberties to separatist leaders. We have given them lot of relaxation. What further relaxation can we give them when they are attempting to destabilize the state? There is a limit to liberty and it can’t go beyond a certain point,” said senior BJP leader and Member of the Legislative Council, Ramesh Arora.
Government has to maintain law and order and it has the responsibility to safeguard lives and property of people, he said.
“Every Kashmiri is not a militant and every Kashmiri is not a separatist,” Arora said adding the government will deal with an iron hand those who are hell bent on destabilizing the state.
At least 58 people including two policemen have been killed and over 7200 including 4000 civilians 3200 were security forces personnel injured in the ongoing violence and unrest in the Valley.
Asked whether government will announce any political package to defuse the tension, Arora said, “ Political package is not possible. Economic package is possible.”
“There is demand for autonomy and then there is demand for Self-Rule. These are political demands not the people’s demands. Fulfilling such demands will not fully satisfy the people because they are not their demands,” he said.
“There are so many groups and there is no unanimity among their demands,” he added.
Arora, however, said, the Mehbuba Mufti-led government will initiate a process to address public issues.
“Political aspirations and the aspirations of the youth will be addressed,” he said.
The life in the Valley has remained crippled for the last 32 days due to curfew and restrictions imposed by government and the shutdown called by separatist leaders. The separatists have extended strike up to August 12.
Use Of Pellet Guns Justified
Asked about use of pellet guns in the Valley, BJP leader Arora said there are central government’s guidelines on the use of pellet guns. “The security forces have to follow those guidelines.”
“Our security forces have exercised maximum restraint. The situation has reached to such a point that our security men are demoralized as they feel the government has totally restricted them from reacting. The security forces have been told to exercise maximum restraint so that none is hurt or killed but this should not be taken as their weakness,” he said.
Arora said injuries have not been suffered by one side only. A large number of security personnel have been injured.
“Security forces have to act to restore the writ of the government and maintain law and order to ensure the safety of public property and lives of people. They fire pellets only when they feel there is a requirement,” he claimed.
The BJP leader said militants are openly participating in rallies. “Then in these rallies stone pelting takes place. The militants remain present in such rallies and want to provoke killings by security forces. However, the security men use non lethal weapons to avoid killings”.
Asked whether the party is hopeful that normalcy would be restored, Arora said that the situation was worse than this in 1989 and the 1990s, 2008, and 2010. Those situations were handled and this too would be handled and peace restored. “
“We are sure we will be able to restore 100 percent normalcy”.