Endorse PDP's troop cut demand: Mehbooba to Azad

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Srinagar, Oct 23 (UNI) Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti today asked Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to openly endorse the demand for troop cut in view of his recent statement about complete normalisation of situation in the state.

Addressing a public gathering in Pulwama, Ms Mufti said Mr Azad had recently stated at an official function yesterday that the state was witnessing ''complete normalisation'' in its situation.

''If The Chief Minister's acknowledgement of the improvement is genuine, he must openly endorse the call for reduction of forces.

His voice, if added to the yearning among the general public, could be of immense value and relief to the people,'' she added.

The PDP president said the ''continued abuse of human rights'' in Jammu and Kashmir calls for a major and bold response from the political leadership of the country.

Isolated probes would add up to nothing considering the highly disturbing scenario that was emerging as a result of the loss of life and property due to such incidents, she added.

Ms Mufti said nothing short of a well thought out reduction of forces engaged in internal security duty could help in addressing the situation. ''That is why the PDP had for quite sometime advocated reduction of troops and revocation of special powers granted to them to tackle a situation that no longer exists.'' She said National Conference (NC) patron Farooq Abdullah too has acknowledged that the situation could be thrown back to early 1990s if the human rights violations continued unabated.

''But, it is unfortunate that even while making such observations the, the NC leader would ridicule the demand for troop reduction and revocation of the special powers to the armed forces spearheaded by the PDP,'' Ms Mufti added.

She said her party was only channelising the sentiments of the people who had waded through pools of blood to give peace a chance.

''If they will have to be treated as suspects and burdened with the over bearing security, the positive gains of the past could be easily negated. It is the time that instead of picking up holes in the PDP demand, all the right thinking people add their voice to it,'' Ms Mufti added.

She said unfortunately the vested political interest and certain other elements were joining forces to engineer something of a ''grand alliance'' against the PDP. ''Our fault is just that we are trying to channelise the people's demand within the constitutional and democratic space of the country,'' the PDP president added.

She said these demands would have to be taken seriously as had actually been done by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he set up a mechanism for addressing them.

Ms Mufti said the incidents like the one at Kupwara in which a teacher was murdered in ''cold blood'' were no more isolated happenings. ''They conform to a pattern. The problems between the security forces and the civilians arise only in areas where they live in congested conditions,'' she added.

The PDP chief said since the actual violence was going down, the presence of security forces in civilian areas naturally causes friction. ''If this fundamental principle of security deployment -- that garrisons should be away from civilian population -- is violated further, there could only be more trouble,'' she warned.

UNI

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