Security forces should help create conditions for dialogue: Mufti
18 November 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: In a significant development, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed on Monday called for ''help'' from the security forces for creating a situation ''congenial for a dialogue to herald an era of lasting peace'' in Jammu and Kashmir. As chairman of the Unified Headquarters of Jammu and Srinagar, the Chief Minister also allowed equally significant development—that is, asking the security forces to make a distinction between foreign mercenaries and local militants. In his first address to the joint meeting of the two Unified Headquarters here this morning, Mufti Sayeed stressed the need for greater coordination among the Army, paramilitary forces, police and the civil administration. The Chief Minister, in fact, advocated ''firm and effective'' measures to check infiltration into J&K from across the border. Conceding that the challenges thrown up by militancy are enormous, the Mufti said that they required to be met with ''courage, fortitude and determination''. At the same time, the Chief Minister had an important message: Efforts must be made to take along the civilian population in meeting the challenges. The people are carefully watching how we tackle the militancy. Appreciating the relaxation in the roadside frisking and search operations during ‘sehri’ and ‘taraveeh’ in Kashmir valley by the Army, Mufti Sayeed reiterated that the people wanted reduction in tensions. The Chief Minister’s verdict: Any such measure, which could lead to the relaxation of situation, would be welcomed by all. And as he emphasized the need for attitudinal change, he asked security forces to build a people-friendly image. He said that the Army and other security personnel had earned people’s appreciation at many places by their good conduct and helpful attitude. He recalled that once the people of a particular area had approached him to get the transfer of a Brigadier of the Army cancelled because he had won the hearts of villagers in Kashmir during Governor’s rule. The Chief Minister hoped that all categories of security forces would emulate this image and strive to win over the hearts of the people. The Mufti, in fact, wanted them to send this message down the line in every formation and build good rapport with the civilians. The Chief Minister, while appreciating the good civic action programmes undertaken by the Army and paramilitary forces in many areas, stressed that every measure must be initiated to avoid any unpleasant incident. If any wrong was committed, action, he said, must be transparent. This, he explained, would help establish people’s confidence in the security forces. Referring to the surrendered militants, the Chief Minister said that anyone who ''shuns violence and returns to the mainstream needs to be rehabilitated properly''. He added that it should be the duty of the security forces and the State to look after such people and not allow them to bring a bad name, either for themselves or the organisations they are affiliated to, by their unacceptable actions. A rehabilitation package, he argued, needed to be prepared so that their services were utilized in a meaningful manner for good of the society. Mufti Sayeed revealed that his Government would pursue the policies and programmes to check discontent and alienation, leaving no scope for militancy to be sustained by the people. ''We must see that we don’t give any cause to anyone to pick up the gun and go astray'', he advocated. He also asked the security forces to ensure that no innoncent was harmed. The Chief Minister’s argument: People get outraged when innocents are killed and not the militants. His warning: No custodial killing would be accepted. His recommendation: Security forces and police should adopt innovative and modern methods of interrogation and information gathering. The Chief Minister called for a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the situation with ''human touch'' in J&K. He, at the same time, pledged to respect the people’s mandate by restoring peace with ''honour and dignity''. He reiterated that his Government was keen to initiate a political process involving all the political parties and other groups within the State and also to strive for consensus at the national level. ''Democracy is a battle of ideas'', was his poetic expression. And his firm opinion: There is no room for gun in democratic dispensation in which we are living. We are ready to hear anyone’s views and put across ours in true democratic spirit. ''We have given a pledge to the people for restoration of peace with dignity and honour and the security forces, civil administration and the political leadership will have to work in unison to redeem this'', he said and added: ''This is in the national interest to end discontent, which would ensure lasting peace in Jammu and Kashmir, machinations from across the border notwithstanding''. The Commanders of 15 and 16 Corps, Director-General of Police, IGs of the Border Security Force and J&K Police, besides senior officers of intelligence agencies, gave their assessment of the situation to the Chief Minister. All the forces assured him their full support in bringing about a desired change in the situation in accordance with his directions. The Chief Secretary and Divisional Commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir also participated in the meeting.