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Mehbooba terms militants ''martyrs''

Written by: Staff
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Srinagar, Apr 7 (UNI) The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a ruling alliance partner in Jammu and Kashmir, today criticised both India and Pakistan for not allowing the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road to become one of the major trade routes between the two countries.

''India thinks that dependence of the people of Jammu and Kashmir on it will go down once trade and commerce picks up on the Jhelum Valley road. Pakistan fears that frequent movement of people from their side will enable them to see for themselves the high standard of living and the progress made in our state since 1947,'' PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti said here.

She was addressing a rally of party workers gathered here to celebrate the first anniversary of the opening of the Jhelum Valley road and the launch of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service on April 7 last year.

The PDP Chief termed as a historic step the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road after 58 years, saying it would pave the way for resolution of the vexed Kashmir issue.

''People from both Jammu and Kashmir and PoK will meet, sit and discuss to find a lasting solution to the long festering issue,'' she added.

Ms Mufti also termed as ''martyrs'' the militants killed in the Kashmir valley since the beginning of 1989 and called for efforts to rehabilitate their families.

''If Prime Minister Manmohan Singh can talk to a former militant why can't the families of the slain ultras be rehabilitated? She asked while referring to Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Chairman Yasin Malik.

She also urged the Prime Minister to take steps for withdrawing the Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state.

''The time has come to revoke the two acts which give unlimited powers to the security forces in combating militancy. Jammu and Kashmir is fast returning to normalcy, democracy is taking firm roots while the role of security forces has also marginalised,'' the PDP Chief added.

She again called for handing over the internal security to the local police in order to share the burden of security forces.

''I am confident that youth of the state are capable to protect the mountains, forests and their houses,'' Ms Mufti added.

UNI AG AK RAI1858

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