Many militants ready to discard gun: Mufti
10 February 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent
Jammu: Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today said that the recently announced rehabilitation policy for militants has had a positive impact and a substantial number of them were ready to shun the path of violence and live a normal life. Addressing a largely attended gathering after the inauguration of the Maharaja Hari Singh Bridge over River Tawi here this morning, he said following the turnaround in the situation quite a good number of youth who had taken to the guns want to say good bye to terror and bloodshed and rejoin their families. He said in the interest of the State and the country it was the duty of the Government to encourage such people and help them be useful members of the society. Allaying misgivings about the rehabilitation policy, Mr Sayeed said it had the approval of the entire nation including the NDA led Central Government. He said the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have endorsed the policy and the entire funds for the rehabilitation of the surrendered militants would come from the Union Government. He said there was no reason for being apologetic about the policy, as it would help end violence and bloodshed in the State. Welcoming the change for peace and friendship with Pakistan, the Chief Minister said that the neighbouring country had positively responded to the peace initiative of India. He said President Musharraf’s call for war on terror would help further improve situation in the subcontinent. He said people of the two countries want peace and development and despise violence adding that several people from Pakistan occupied Kashmir met him during his visit to England and conveyed their intense sentiments about peace and normal relations between India and Pakistan. While the efforts of Pakistan were appreciative, India had to be on guard, he maintained. Describing the change in the situation as a new turn of history that was witnessed after 56 years of acrimony and mistrust between India and Pakistan, the Chief Minister said the coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir paved way for this change. In fact, he said, the coalition became the facilitator for bringing about a thaw in the relations between the two south Asian neighbours. He said the main agenda of the Government was to restore peace with dignity and ensure that there was no more blood letting. The Government, he added, embarked upon the policy of winning the hearts and minds of the people and removing the causes of alienation. 'Years of injustice, whether in the form of corruption, ill treatment or misgovernance created the feeling of alienation among people', the Chief Minister said and referred to the much-acclaimed healing touch policy through which the grievances were addressed. He said the policy was endorsed both at national and international level. He said when the coalition partners were chalking out strategy to deal with the situation and came out with a definite programme, many people expressed apprehensions about its implementation. 'Our stand ultimately proved correct', he said. Calling upon leaders and groups to rise above party politics, Mufti Sayeed said there were some issues which concerned all and demand a response beyond narrow personal interests. He said a good time was round the corner. The Chief Minister also released a souvenir of the bridge detailing its main features. The 3-lane pre-stressed box girder RCC bridge with a total length of 313.23 meters has been constructed at a cost of about Rs.12.50 crore. It has total width of 12.70 meters with carriage width of 10 meters having 1.50 meters wide footpath. Deputy Chief Minister Mangat Ram Sharma asserted that the coalition Government is functioning in a cohesive manner and all the decisions are taken with consensus. He said the Mufti Government is a highly democratic dispensation and engaged in the task of faster socio-economic development of the people of the State. He said the Government strongly believes in unity and integrity of all the three regions of the State with equitable share in development. Minister for R&B Madan Lal Sharma stated that a Rs. 29 crore project has been formulated for construction of an underground road from Jogi Gate to Radio Station in Jammu for optimal utilization of the bridge constructed over Tawi at Gujjar Nagar. He said a fly-over would be constructed at Bikram Chowk for smooth flow of traffic while a Jammu bye-pass road has also been planned to ease congestion in the city. Dr. Karan Singh, MP and senior Congress leader, who was also present, appreciated the strategy adopted by the Mufti-led coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir to win the hearts and minds of the people and said that history is taking a new turn with the firm hope for restoration of a lasting peace and normalcy. He said that better days are ahead for the people of the State. He said the people of the State have suffered immensely in the past and exuded confidence that the bold initiatives taken would resolve the problem. Referring to naming of the newly constructed bridge after Maharaja Hari Singh, Dr. Karan Singh termed the decision as most appropriate and respects the aspirations of the people of Jammu. He said a new beginning has been made by the coalition Government by providing full justice to all the regions and areas of the State in development and other spheres of governance. He said it is for the first time that two cabinet ministers have been inducted into the council of ministers from Ladakh region while the genuine aspirations of the people of Kashmir and Jammu are being attended to in an appropriate manner. He said this has made the real difference in the situation that has started looking up.