AFSPA Source of Innocent Killings: Mufti

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SRINAGAR:  A day after police probe indicted Army for killing Markundal Youth Irfan Ahmed Ganaie, former Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Monday said that no action could be initiated against erring the army personnel as long as Armed Forces Special Powers Act is in vogue.

“There is a need to make everybody accountable. The feature of accountability is missing in the present government. During our tenure we had made army and other institutions accountable. Today the army is same as existed during our rule but there is no accountability,” Mufti Sayeed said while addressing a press conference at his official Gupkar residence.

Citing the instance of Kreeri, Pattan incident Mufti said that during his term as Chief Minister, army killed the son of an Imam in cold blood. “I sent Muzafar Hussain Beigh to Kreeri where army colonel Patnayek bowed his head with shame and sought forgiveness from the father of the deceased youth,” he said.

Mufti said that he had made army and police accountable and didn’t spare anyone when they violated the law. “I even suspended a Station Police Officer after he committed a crime. Nobody is above law but what is needed is accountability,” he said. 

War no option

PDP patron expressed concern over the deteriorating situation along the Line of Control and said that war in no way is an option. 

He declared that his party would take out a peace march on Nov 4 in Srinagar to convey to national leadership the concern for the deterioration in security environment and the need to mend it through peaceful means.

He said that through the peace march we hope to convey our seriousness on the issue and expect it to get registered in spite of the din, partisan interests and strategies of ongoing electoral battle.

He said the concerns of the people of Jammu & Kashmir as the frontline state must be respected and ceasefire restored. “The rising tension along the LOC and international border with Pakistan has been causing very serious concern in entire state. The intensity and frequency of ceasefire violations would suggest the decade long truce is all but crashing,” he said.

Mufti Sayed said that the human cost of border violence is rising alarmingly. “The people of the state had looked up to the Manmohan Singh-Nawaz Sharief summit in New York with great hope for revival of the peace process which lay in virtual tatters. But unfortunately the meeting failed even to restore normalcy on borders not to speak of any proactive measures on the vision unfolded in 2003. Even the DGMOs of the two countries have not been able to follow up on the declaration by the Prime Ministers.

“There has never been any dearth of hawks in the two neighboring countries that would fan the fire of hostility and bullet for bullet policy. There have been wars on major and minor scales, which brought destruction and misery to the people of the state. But those who advocate violence have themselves been at a safe distance from the nearest bullet fired or house bombed,” he said adding that Jammu and Kashmir too produced its share of politicians who would try to serve their personal interests by indulging in war rhetoric against Pakistan.

Sayed said that consensus was broken recently when the chief minister called for ‘other options’ and a ‘response in kind’ at a time when shells and bullets were taking their toll on both sides of the divide. It clearly goes beyond the usual lack of sensitivity to the people’s sentiment and looks like a part of a script to sacrifice the interests of the state for some other objective.

He said that Peoples Democratic Party wants to make it clear that it treats war as no option, not even the last. “We have witnessed wars and suffered their consequences as no other state has had to. Every war was triggered by hawkish interpretation of situation and had to be followed up with negotiations or mediation to end them,” he said.

Stating that any escalation needs to be avoided in the interests of our people who had for the last ten years enjoyed peace along the borders from Kargil to Kathua, Sayed questioned that if, “We could tackle Kargil intrusion without going for a full scale war, if parliament attack could see the longest ceasefire between the two countries coming in the wake of troop mobilization, one fails to understand the logic of any war mongering now in absence of any major provocation.”

Mufti said that, “in my opinion the border firing has nothing to do with the conflict around Kashmir because both countries realize that use of force cannot bring any change in its status. The issue has to be addressed politically and the two countries have to respect the yearning for peace in J&K. Vajpayee did that in 2003 with resounding results when it looked that finally the jinx around Kashmir was being neutralized. People of this state continue to nurture the same sentiment and want that the peace process be revived and taken to its next level. That will also help retain the spirit of ceasefire and protecting it against any sabotage. One of the reasons for current tensions is the failure to build on the ceasefire of 2003 and use this for further normalization, easing travel and trade and expanding its scope and scale. That is the only route to salvation for the state and the region. 

Congress ‘Natural Ally’: Mufti 

PDP Monday reached out to Congress saying the party was its “natural ally” even as it scotched any talk of joining the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) with all eyes on Lok Sabha polls next year. 

“There is no alliance (with NDA)… Congress is our natural ally,” PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said in response to questions as to which camp his party would prefer to join. 

“Jammu and Kashmir had a golden period during the PDP- Congress alliance government (between 2002 and 2008),” he said. 

Congress is presently part of the coalition government in J-K partnering National Conference. 

Sayeed, however, praised the former NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, saying it had supported the “healing touch” policy launched in 2003. 

He also lauded the NDA government for approving the widening of the National Highway from Srinagar to Jammu, which was taken up by Sayeed during his tenure as chief minister.

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