Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today took separatist leaders head-on and accused them of instigating the children in the Valley to engage in violence while making sure their own studied abroad or outside the state.
"My colleagues have this (fear) that I may say something. But, I have always spoken truth. The way a mother slaps her child when he tries to touch a hot kangri (firepot), I will do the same to save my people,” Mehbooba said.
"I will be angry, I will speak truth and warn them not to use children as a shield (during street protests)," Mehbooba told a gathering at an official event, invoking motherhood that is devoted to the welfare of the child.
She exuded confidence that the Valley will come out of the "misery" as her intentions were noble. "Majority of the people want an honourable solution to the issue. Nobody wants violence except for those who don't have to face impact of this violence as their own children are studying outside the Valley.
"They ask the children to fight bullets, pellets and teargas, but themselves fear a policeman," she said. Taking on the separatists, she said they were "exploiting" children in the Valley only after having made sure that their studied outside.
She, however, hoped the situation would get back to normal. "Time will not remain like this always, but wounds will be there on the hearts of the children which these people have inflicted. Today, people will find my words bitter, but they will later understand what I said because I saw many people roaming the streets at night provoking children to join the protests.”
"God is witness, that their (the separatists') own children study in Malaysia, Dubai, Bangalore and Rajasthan. If a single child of these people has been injured in the protests in these days, I am ready to quit politics," she said at the function organised to distribute LED bulbs under the Centre's 'UJALA' scheme.
The function was organized by Union Power Ministry, State Power Development Department and Energy Efficiency Services Limited – a joint-venture of PSUs under the Ministry of Power.
Hitting out at those who were provoking people, especially children to come out on the roads, Mehbooba said, "What solution is this that our children are getting blinded. Till when will this go on?"
"Nothing will come out of this...by violence, by closing shops and throwing stones. Our movement is not a movement now because it has jettisoned our culture and become uncultured," Mehbooba said.
She said there is an opportunity for addressing the Kashmir issue as the country has a strong Prime Minister in Narendra Modi who has called for an end to the violence.
"Today, there is an opportunity as there is a very strong Prime Minister in this country. Today, in this situation, the cream of the country, members of Parliament, came to you (as part of an all-party delegation) and many among them said that they want to talk without any conditions.
"I, as president (PDP), wrote a letter. It had not happened till now. I said you talk wherever you want, we would facilitate it because every day children are getting killed, injured. This should end. Our shops are closed, our schools are shut, everything has stopped. Today, there is an opportunity for the people of the state if they want a solution to the issue," she said.
"We have lost several opportunities in the past to resolve the issue through engagement and dialogue and today again if we miss the chance, the coming generations will never forgive us for our intransigence," she said.
She said if the separatists have the courage they should sleep in their homes instead of roaming around exploiting the children.
"If you (separatists) have courage, then sleep in your homes and not roam around from one home to another asking children to take out protests rallies. You fear my policeman, but tell these children, my children, our children, who should have been in schools, to take out protests in other places and do something so that there is a reaction (from the security forces).
"How will I tolerate this? I have been saying this that there are mostly those children who used to be at my rallies when they were kids when no one was with me," she said.
Kashmiri separatist leaders have long been accused of instigating the children while they keep their own family members away from trouble.
All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s grandson is employed with a marketing and communication company in Dubai. Meerwaiz Umar Farooq is married to a US citizen Sheeba Masoodi who lives in the States along with their daughter. Meerwaiz’s sister Rabia, a doctor, also lives in the USA.
Muslim Conference leader Ghulam Nabi Sumji’s son has been living with relatives in Delhi from a very young age. A son of Hurriyat leader Mohammad Ashraf Sahrai also lives in Dubai and works as a software engineer in a firm.
Fareeda Behanji’s daughter Rubina lives in South Africa where she is a practicing doctor.
On Sunday, Hurriyat leaders’ snubbed members of all-party delegation of Parliamentarians and refused a meeting with them.
Following this, the Narendra Modi government is mulling to curtail the facilities provided to separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.