Try to bring back youths to mainstream: Mehbooba to police

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SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Muftion Friday urged the police to try to bring back to mainstream the youth+ who have fled their homes to join militancy, instead of their being killed in encounters.

In remarks which come in the wake of a prolonged unrest+in the Valley triggered by gunning down of local Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani+ , she said, “Those who have taken up arms or those who have not but are missing from their homes and want to join militancy, they are local boys.

“I request the police to try to bring them back to their homes. Instead of their being killed in encounters, if it is possible to bring them back, make them a part of the mainstream, give them bats, balls and good education, instead of guns.”

Mehbooba, who was speaking at the Police Commemoration Day function at Armed Police Complex in Zewan on the outskirts of the summer capital here, said that such youths needed hand-holding.

She stressed that ending militancy and restoring peace were a prerequisite for repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and for seeking start of dialogue process in the state.

“We cannot force anyone to have dialogue on gun-point+ , stones or by lathis,” she said adding that only when there is a “conducive” atmosphere she can go to Delhi with her “head held high”.

Urging local youths to give up violence, she said that “black laws” like AFSPA would be repealed from the state when the situation improves.

“When the situation improves here, we will end the black laws. For that we have to create an atmosphere first. I know that today the situation is not such, but tomorrow, a year after… we have to repeal AFSPA as we cannot keep it in force forever.

“How can I do it today? There is infiltration, there are encounters. We have to end militancy and create peace in Jammu and Kashmir so that we can repeal AFSPA from some areas here,” she said.

The Chief Minister said the police should deal with militants but civilians should not be troubled.

Referring to young boys indulging in stone-pelting, Mehbooba said they do not know what they were doing and some of the people who were instigating them have been identified and so will be others.

“A 12-year-old child comes out to throw stones, does he know why he is throwing (stones)? There are some people behind them, some of whom we have identified and others too we will identify.

“I request them as well why have you involved young children, why have you made them a shield? You have pushed them to camps, police stations, you tell them what they have to do during the day, but you yourself escape during the night,” she said, apparently targeting the separatists.

“But this issue cannot be solved by stones, bullets, guns or encounters.”

Pitching for dialogue between India and Pakistan, the chief minister said the neighbouring country should help in creating a conducive atmosphere for it.

Mehbooba said her government wants to ban the use of pellet guns as a crowd control measure and sought cooperation of police saying they should “tolerate” and refrain from using such weapons as the protests will not continue forever.

“If there is an injury on you, let it be, but if we save a youth’s eyes or arms from pellet guns, then I think it will be your biggest sacrifice. Because this (protests) will not continue forever, it is temporary. But I need your cooperation,” she said.

The chief minister said while the police had exhibited patience during the last three months of unrest in the Valley, there were some mistakes which warrant action.

She said once peace is established in the state, she would ask Prime Minister Narendra Modi to begin a dialogue process.

“Establish peace here and the next day I will go to Delhi and request the Prime Minister to talk to everyone and find a solution…to do justice with our people – those people who come out to vote on the edge of sword – for their safety, prosperity and development.”

 PTI

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