Jammu, Jan 29: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti on Monday assured that the probe ordered into the killing of two civilians at Shopian two days ago would be taken to logical conclusion.
Winding up the discussion on an Adjournment Motion on Shopian killings in the House, the Chief Minister said nobody countenances such killings which only impairs and slow down the political process in the State.
“Immediately after the incident took place an FIR was lodged against the guilty and the Deputy Commissioner, Shopian was ordered to conduct a magisterial probe and come up with its report within 15 days,” said the Chief Minister.
Mufti said within moments of learning about the incident she rang up Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi who, she said adding that she also shared anguish and assured to take appropriate measures.
“Army as an institution has done a great job but the grace of an institution only enhances once the black sheep within are identified and weeded out,” added Mufti.
The Chief Minister said during her Unified Headquarters meetings she has been stressing upon all security agencies to exercise maximum restraint and ensure that no collateral damage takes place while operating.
Sharing the concern of the House over the civilian killings, the Chief Minister said the entire State is anguished over the killings, which she said, have the potential to impair the political process in the State.
Mufti said incidents like Shopian remind us that we cannot afford confrontation at any level and there is an urgent need to engage in a meaningful dialogue at all levels.
She said there is no alternative to dialogue within the State and between India and Pakistan because it is the people of Jammu and Kashmir who are facing the brunt of this acrimony and paying in terms of human and material losses.
The Chief Minister said it was satisfying to note that the House was unanimous in advocating dialogue, reconciliation and peaceful means to sort out differences.
She appealed all political parties to maintain consistency in this regard adding that the failures in dialogue in past are no reason not to undertake fresh peace initiatives.
The Chief Minister Mehbooba also slammed the Congress in failing to carry forward Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s peace initiative during its rule.
“I am happy that now a day everyone is speaking of talks to solve crisis,” Mufti said and added, “it is unfortunate that the Congress party in its ten-year rule have failed to carry forward peace initiatives of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”
She further said that during UPA regime, she did not see any progress on Confidence Building Measures, Working Group Implementation, Banking Facility, adding, “everything stopped thereafter.”
During the course of her speech, Congress legislature party leader Nawang Rigzin Jora interrupted Mufti twice after she claimed that the UPA’s ten years saw no progress on the Kashmir issue. The Congress leader questioned Mufti on what stopped her from carrying the initiatives forward.
Mufti lauded initiatives taken by BJP prime ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Narendra Modi for restoring peace in Jammu and Kashmir and normalising relations with Pakistan. Modi has taken over from where Vajpayee left, she said.
She praised the Centre for “serious initiatives” on Kashmir and asked opposition members to maintain consistency on dialogue, relations with Pakistan etc.
“We can’t afford confrontation with Pakistan because we suffer a lot and I am feeling happy when there is any indication of back channel dialogue between the two countries,” she said.
She said that now in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rule in the Centre, an atmosphere of peace has been created in Jammu and Kashmir with formation of PDP-BJP Government.
She said if somebody commits a mistake, he should be punished as such a course only brings laurels to the institution.
“If some Army officer has committed a mistake, an FIR has been lodged and it is the duty of the government to take it to a logical conclusion,” Mufti said.
Giving details, she said two militants and a civilian were killed in an encounter on January 24.
“The police asked the Army to not pass through the village as one of the militants killed in the encounter was its resident. The Army, because of some compulsion, took the route but their vehicles came under stone pelting resulting in the killing of two civilians in the firing,” she said.
It is a “big issue”, Mufti, who leads a PDP-BJP coalition in the state, said.
Every now and then we have “unfortunate” incidents that should not have happened, she added.
“We are asking the Army and other security forces to maintain utmost restraint but it is also a fact that unlike in the past when villages used to get deserted if there was an encounter, or even a fake encounter, now hundreds indulge in stone pelting on security forces when an encounter breaks out,” she said.
Mufti said that whether at Unified Command meetings or elsewhere, she always advocated restraint in dealing with civilians. I asked the forces to resort to aerial firing instead of direct firing if they have no other option, she said.
The government is on the back foot due to such killings and it is of no benefit to us, she said.
“She said if you feel there is carelessness (on the part of the Army), you take whatever action you want to take. Subsequently, we lodged an FIR and ordered a magisterial probe,” the chief minister said.
Jammu and Kashmir government has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. Police has filed a murder case against the army.
Several members including Leader of Opposition, Omar Abdullah, Ali Mohammad Sagar, Mina Altaf Ahmad, M Y Tarigami, Hakeem Mohammad Yasin, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, R S Pathania, Gulzar Ahmad Wani, Bashir Ahmad Dar and Pawan Gupta participated in the discussion.