Underlining the plight of children blinded due to pellet gun injuries in Jammu and Kashmir, state’s Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday said Kashmiris need to be reached out to and that “bulldozing” them will not resolve the crisis. Mufti, who is in Goa to attend the “India Ideas Conclave” that got underway on Friday, said Jammu and Kashmir could serve as the country’s gateway to Central Asia and that India should tap the state’s strategic potential. “Some days back, I called these pellet victims and it was really heartbreaking when I saw some of them have lost both eyes. Now 14-year-old, who were just 13 last year, what do they know? How does he know why I am pelting a stone? It’s in the rush of things (that they indulged in stone-pelting). And I saw both their eyes are gone,” Mufti said. “I wanted to give them some kind of rehabilitation. Though I tried to help them financially, but you can’t rehabilitate a 14-year-old child, you can just try to give them some education. You can’t give him a job at this age,” she said, adding that it was the duty of the country to ensure that the residents of her state were alleviated from the present situation. She said there was a need for those responsible to reach out to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir and that “bulldozing” them would just not help resolve the issues. “People have to mould them, reach out to them. It doesn’t happen by bulldozing them,” Mufti said.
The Chief Minister also said that India should tap the potential which the northern state presents in terms of strategic geographic importance. “Jammu Kashmir has the potential to become a gateway to Central Asia. Why can’t our country take advantage of that? Kashmir is our’s is what Parliament has already said, but we still have Aksai Chin which is with China. It is still there,” she said.
She said the government’s decision to appoint an interlocutor to speak to stakeholders in the region was a positive sign. “I feel with these things, there is already a political process. The government of India has nominated a representative who has set the ball rolling…” she added.