Rajnath Singh appeals for Kashmir peace, tells Pakistan to behave

Srinagar, July 24: Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday urged Kashmiri youths to end their protests and ordered security forces to avoid pellet guns to bring peace in the Kashmir Valley. He also told Pakistan not to encourage people in Jammu and Kashmir to become terrorists.

At the end of a two-day visit to the Kashmir Valley, Srinagar and Anantnag included, the minister said New Delhi was ready for talks that will help bring "peace and normalcy" in the state.

Rajnath Singh appeals for Kashmir peace, tells Pakistan to behave.
His trip came amid the deadliest unrest in years that has left 45 people dead in violent stone-throwing protests following the July 8 killing of top pro-Pakistan rebel commander Burhan Wani.

"I urge the youth of Kashmir not to engage in stone-pelting and also ask the security forces to avoid using pellet guns against protesters as far as possible," Rajnath Singh told reporters here.

He reiterated his commitment in parliament that the central government would set up a team of experts to find ways of using non-lethal weapons to control mobs that will submit a report in two months.

"I appeal to people to restore peace and normalcy," he said, adding New Delhi was ready for a "constructive" dialogue which can help in restoring normalcy in the troubled valley.

He said he met at least 13 delegations during his stay in Srinagar and asked them "to help the government with constructive suggestions in bringing peace and normalcy.

"If there are differences of opinion, those can be resolved through dialogue."

Asked if the government was ready to talk to separatist leaders, Rajnath Singh didn't rule it out but said normalcy was the priority. "Let us first ensure normalcy. Then, we can decide whether we talk to separatists or any other group."

Saying the Indian government would never tolerate terrorism, the minister said while Pakistan carried out operations against militants in Islamabad's Lal Masjid in July 2007, they encouraged youths to take up arms in Kashmir.

"I would like to tell our neighbouring country, you are affected by terrorism. You had to storm the Lal Masjid to kill the terrorists. But on the other hand, you appeal to Kashmiri youth to take up guns.

"This should stop.... Pakistani's role is not 'pak' (pure) on Kashmir. They must change their attitude and mindset vis-a-vis Jammu and Kashmir."

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had hailed the slain Hizbul Mujahideen commander as a "martyr" who fought for Kashmir's "Azadi". And on Friday, Sharif said his country was waiting for the day Kashmir becomes a part of Pakistan.

Rajnath Singh, in no ambiguous terms, asked Pakistan to stop meddling in Kashmir affairs. "We do not need the involvement of any third power to address the Kashmir situation."

He said his government didn't want "a relationship with Kashmir that is forcible and based on necessities. We want to build a relationship based on emotional bonds."

He said steps were being taken to ensure Kashmir becomes a "firdous" or heaven again, remembering a famous Persian couplet that praises the serene beauty of the land and refers to it as the "paradise on Earth".

"I have spoken with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and assured her that any injured person who are unable to get proper medical treatment here can be sent to Delhi for treatment. We will ensure they are treated at AIIMS."


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