Separatists Using Children As Cannon Fodder: Mehbooba

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Udhampur: Lashing out at the separatists, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Friday alleged they were not allowing schools in the Kashmir Valley to function because they wanted a new generation of uneducated youths who can pelt stones and can be used as "cannon fodder".

She said the separatists were exploiting children from the poor families by instigating them to attack army camps, police stations and CRPF camps and were using them as shields, while their own children were safe.

"If the youths get education they won't pelt stones for them. The (separatist) leadership want a generation of uneducated youths who can pelt stones for them," Mehbooba said in a scathing attack on separatists during a passing out parade of police officers.

"Today, I see that big leaders feel if schools open, poor children will get education and then they will not have time for stone pelting or might not be ready for that," she said.

Stressing that leaders who give preference to the future and education of the children are needed and not the ones who use them as cannon fodder, she said, "for three months our schools are closed, we tried and even Delhi sent big delegations".

"Our Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) came thrice, our Finance Minister (Arun Jaitley) went there and an all-party delegation also went to meet them but they closed doors for them. The reply to the request of a civil society delegation led by Yashwant Sinha, which completed its three-day visit to Kashmir on Thursday, was given by burning of two schools," the chief minister said.

"A civil society delegation went to meet them (separatists) and they opened their doors for them. The team requested them that the future of children was getting spoiled and for God's sake help to let the schools open and the reply came in the form of burning of two schools," Mehbooba said.

With the unrest in the valley continuing for over a hundred days, she alleged that the separatists wanted that the children should get hurt to keep the "pot boiling".

"They feel that let the children of poor people die. What will happen if they get injured or die they are not rich kids,” Mehbooba questioned. “It is a big challenge for us because till now they have handed over the gun to poor children and now they are using them as shields.”

"Among all those killed or injured, 99 percent were small kids, not one from the rich family, not a single child of those leaders have been injured, only poor kids" Mehbooba said.

She said that first the separatists thought that the uneducated youths would pick guns for them, but the youths in the past 25 years has realised that gun will not solve any problem.

"Children are not ready to pick up guns. Now they want a generation of illiterate children who can pelt stones for them, not only pelt the stones but in the process lose their lives. I was told that girl students want to go to school but are afraid that they would be attacked by stone-pelters when they see them in the white uniform," Mehbooba said.

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