November 2017 News

Modi Can Make History By Changing Kashmir Narrative: CM

4 November 2017
Kashmir Monitor


Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said that that Prime Minister Narendra Modi can create history by 'changing the narrative' on Jammu and Kashmir because of his 'unprecedented mandate'. Mehbooba Mufti also reiterated that Article 370 is the India's commitment to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and therefore 'should be honoured'. She tweeted the statement shortly after addressing a gathering at Express Adda organised by The Indian Express in New Delhi. During the event, when asked about the 'Azadi-Autonomy' debate at Express Adda, Mehbooba Mufti said autonomy is an idea within the Constitution of India and that we need to replace the idea of azadi with a better idea. 'There is a misconception that Autonomy or Self-rule is anti-national It's all in the Agenda for Alliance,' she said. 'What after (even if we chose to be) separate? We need to have a plan of action, need self-respect, then a bright future,' Mufti added. The autonomy debate took centre stage after senior Congress leader P Chidambaram raked up the issue last month when he pitched for greater autonomy for the restive Jammu and Kashmir, drawing stinging criticism from the BJP. He had told reporters in Gujarat's Rajkot, 'The demand in the Kashmir Valley is to respect the letter and spirit of Article 370, which means they want greater autonomy. My interactions in J&K led me to the conclusion that when they ask for azadi, mostly, I am not saying all the overwhelming majority, they want autonomy.' Reacting to the appointment of Dineshwar Sharma as Kashmir interlocutor, Mehbooba yesterday said that the central government has finally taken an important step towards reconciliation. 'This is the beginning of a political process. The Centre has finally taken a very serious step forward. When Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) spoke on Independence Day, the message was clear that he wants reconciliation, a process of rapprochement, to be the mainstay of the government's Kashmir policy. I knew that they were looking for a credible face since August. The appointment of this interlocutor, a retired officer whom we know very well, is part of that process of reconciliation. it is an important move forward,' she said at Express Adda event in New Delhi on Friday. Talking about the current situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the chief minister said it has improved since last year but cautioned that media discourse today is not good for Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of India. 'A section of media is not helping in reconciliation. If such media was in there in 90s, then J&K would not have been with us. Many news channels are not helping in reconciliation but adding to the problem,' she said. Mufti was also asked about PDP's coalition partner BJP. She reminisced her father Mufti Muhammad Sayeed's commitment to the BJP, saying she didn't want to let him down. 'I worked hard for my father because he had a vision beyond Jammu and Kashmir. He believed in the idea of India. He also had a commitment with BJP. So I didn't want to let him down. I didn't want to make a U-turn. I have faith in the DNA of this country.' Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership in the scheme of things, Mufti said it's an asset and that he's a very down-to-earth person. 'I found him very open, down-to-earth. I find it easy to talk to him. He has been considerate and reassuring.' The Chief Minister said the situation in the State has improved considerably since last year and sectors like tourism and trade have started to pick up pace. She said she has directed the security establishments to prefer the return back of local militants to the social mainstream to their killing. Replying to a question on rising incidents of intolerance and other hate crimes in the country, Mehbooba Mufti said the common citizens are as tolerant and accommodative as they used to be before. 'The DNA of this country would not change. That is why we chose to be with India which is as liberal as any other society in the world', she said adding incidents of hate crimes bring disrepute to this tolerant ethos of the country. On her impressions about the people of the State, the Chief Minister described them as a grateful lot. 'Even a small favour you do to them, they would acknowledge it gleefully', she said while narrating many anecdotes from her public life of past two decades or more to drive home the point. On the issues facing the current polity of the country, Mehbooba Mufti said that it is high time that Women's Reservation Bill is given a proper thought by the Parliament. She laid stress on the social empowerment of women alongside their political and economic empowerment. She said a value system to respect women needs to be inculcated among the children to put an end to atrocities on the womenfolk. Terming youth as her passion to work for, the Chief Minister said she intends to give them a better and secure future. 'I have worked with them since long. I need everybody's help to save them from becoming victims of an uncertain situation. They are full of energy and talent and I want to channelize that for their and society's betterment', she said. The interactive session was attended by politicians, mediapersons, public policy analysts, academicians, retired civil servants and other informed groups of the society.

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