Mehbooba: Give me a chance

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday appealed to the people to give her a chance to address the crisis in the state, underlining the fact that she has been in power for just three months and a half. “I appeal to all those protesting in the streets. You may be angry with me, I may be angry with you. But please give me one chance to address your concerns and aspirations,” she said.
In an exclusive interview with dna, after her 45-minute-meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for the first time since the unrest broke in the state on July 8, Mehbooba said she outlined a three-pronged action during the meeting.
It included the involvement of separatists and Pakistan in a substantive dialogue and a solution in the light of the contemporary geo-political realities. But she refused to divulge details.
Mehbooba said that good governance in her state was linked to peaceful relations between India and Pakistan. “How can you govern and undertake development-related work when there are tensions?” she said. On this front, she blamed Islamabad for not responding to Modi’s peace overtures.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti stepped out as a confident leader with an action plan after an hour-long meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. Even as Mehbooba's actions -including the arrests of separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani -spoke of her confidence and determination to come to grips with the situation in her land, the meeting is said to have sent out the message of the Centre's faith in her leadership.
Speaking to media after the meeting, Mehbooba said, “You can only talk with those who want to talk. Those who are inciting the youth don't want peace, they want bloodshed.Our democracy is large enough to encompass the dreams of Kashmiris.This matter can be solved.“
Lauding Modi's efforts to improve relations with Pakistan, she recalled Modi's invitation to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his oath-taking ceremony and even visiting the neighbouring country. “The Pathankot incident, however, affected the ties between both countries. With the situation in Kashmir taking a turn for the worse in the past few days, Pakistan, instead of helping us, is fomenting trouble. They had a golden opportunity to talk about Kashmir when Rajnathji was in Islamabad recently but he was ill-treated.“
Official sources said the prime minister's meeting with Mehbooba was intended to signal the Centre's support to J-K's CM. “There was a section in the government that was toying with the idea of replacing Mehbooba Mufti as violence escalated,“ a source confided, adding, “Pakistan does not want Mehbooba to succeed which is why it has been adding to the trouble in PDP (Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party) strongholds in the Valley.The CM's order of rounding up Jamaat-i-Islami supporters in the state is likely to help curb the violence.“
However, several interlocutors expressed their dissatisfaction against the J&K CM for her speech on stone pelting and blaming parents for sending children into violent areas. “It would have helped if Mehbooba had refrained from using the toffee and milk analogy for children hurt during stone pelting in the Valley. She could have used Rajnath Singh's visit to the Srinagar to bargain for relief,“ said interlocutor MJ Khan.

Curfew and restrictions continued for the 50th day across the Kashmir Valley on Saturday with no let-up in the separatist-called shutdown as the toll rose to 71 after the police fished out the body of 20-year-old Shahnawaz Khan from Jhelum. As per residents, Khan from Dadoo Marhama area in Sangam, south Kashmir, was one of three men who jumped into the river to escape being caught by police chasing protestors on Friday. The other two youths are believed to have swum to safety.

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