May 2016 News

Mehbooba Takes On Separatists Over Stone-throwing Fridays

31 May 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Majid Jahangir

Srinagar: For the first time after becoming Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti lashed out at separatists today and accused them of disturbing peace on Fridays. Without naming any separatist leader, Mehbooba said they had turned blessed Friday into a stone-throwing day. 'Friday was a blessed day and it was blessed because people would assemble at one place to offer prayers together, discuss issues of society and try to prevent whatever wrong was happening in society. Those who taunt me and accuse me of being anti-Muslim have turned blessed Friday into a stone-throwing day,' she said while concluding the discussion on the Governor's address in the Legislative Council. 'A respectful citizen will think 40 times whether I should offer prayers at Badi Masjid (Jamia Mosque) or Pather Masjid or any other. He is frightened whether he will be hit by a stone. He can even lose his life,' Mehbooba said. She said she was being branded as anti-Muslim and anti-Kashmir. 'It is not only you (Opposition), many others (separatists) have been issuing fatwas that I am anti-Muslim. Kashmiriyat is that we should safeguard our religion and stay together. Our Islam is not what they (separatists) say you have to do (protests and stone pelting) on Fridays,' she said. Kashmiri separatists usually call for protests on Fridays, followed by stone-pelting incidents, mostly in the old city, in which Pakistani and ISIS flags are raised. The Chief Minister said Islam did preach 'slaughtering' and shouting religious slogans. She reiterated the PDP-BJP government's stand of bringing back migrant Kashmiri Pandits with respect. 'First, we have to put them in transit camps. We have to give them breathing space. We can't tell them to go directly to their villages. How is this possible?' Mehbooba asked. 'Workers of the Congress, PDP, NC and BJP are living with security. When they can't live without security, is it not important to provide a sense of security to Pandits? Once they feel the situation is conducive, they will go back to their villages,' she said. The Chief Minister said her 'pigeons and the cat' statement on the return and rehabilitation of Pandits had been distorted by opposition parties and the media to project every Kashmiri as a militant. 'My remarks were distorted. Kashmiri Muslims are fed up of violence. Kashmiri Pandits are not afraid of Kashmiri Muslims. They are afraid of those who perpetrated the Wandhama massacre. Who killed Abdul Gani Lone? Who shot Mirwaiz Moulvi Mohammad Farooq?' she asked. Last week, while speaking in the Assembly on the rehabilitation process of displaced Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants, Mehbooba had said she would not throw Kashmiri Pandits like 'pigeons before the cat'. While the National Conference said the Chief Minister owed an apology to people of Kashmir, hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said she had 'lost her mental balance after gaining power'. She hit out at critics over the allegations that bringing back Pandits with Article 370 was totally wrong.

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