The people of Jammu and Kashmir have to choose between peace and violence, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said on Sunday as she asked students to focus on their education by letting the elders address bigger issues.
"The people here need to decide ... they need to think what they want and how they want it. (Whether) by pelting stones, by killing bright children like (young army officer) Ummer Fayaz or a bank employee or a youth working in police (who work hard for earning their livelihood) or by resorting to looting banks and weapons? Are we not, God forbid, strangulating Kashmiriyat (by such acts)? I am hopeful that people here are fundamentally peace-loving and prefer brotherhood and would not forget the teachings of Kashmiriyat or co-existence with every religion," she said.
The chief minister was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function in her home constituency of Anantnag in south Kashmir.
On being asked about the student protests across the Valley, Mehbooba said the students should focus on their education and leave the bigger issues to the elders.
"They all are our children whether they study in schools or not. I think our children are intelligent and I have said it time and again that wherever our children go, whether in sports or education or KAS and IAS examinations or out of the country, they excel. But unfortunately, I think someone has cast an evil eye on their intelligence, on the people of Kashmir and this beautiful valley. I feel the children should study and the bigger issues should be addressed by the elders," she said.
She also appealed the parents and teachers to help the children focus on their studies.
Incidentally, the chief minister had yesterday met 21-year-old football coach Afshan Ashiq. A photograph that captured her hurling stones in rage at policemen has become the new defining image of stone pelters in the valley.
The PDP leader also raised the issue of corruption and how it takes a backseat when the valley witnesses law and order situation.
"Corruption is a big issue. Unfortunately when the situation deteriorates here, all our attention shifts towards maintaining law and order. All other issues - like of development and corruption - remain somewhere behind," she added