Srinagar: Soon after the centre tweaked its strategy for Kashmir and named an interlocutor to hold “sustained dialogue” with all stakeholders of Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appeared to follow up on the initiative. She told the state’s policemen to stop retaliatory attacks on families of terrorists, prefer surrender of terrorists over killing them and follow the law themselves before enforcing it among people.
“When you get an opportunity where a local militant is ready, before or during an encounter, to surrender… I will give you double the reward for bringing him back alive,” the chief minister told the police at the induction of over 700 fresh recruits into the force, according to news agency.
Ms Mehbooba also warned the police against carrying out retaliatory strikes that target families of the terrorists. “I should not get any complaint that when a militant was not caught, or he fled or ransacked some house, we did the same,” the chief minister said, referring to recent media reports about security forces entering homes of some terrorists and threatening their family.
“Militants kill our people, police personnel and then they ransack their houses or set them on fire, but our forces – whether security forces or police – should not do such things,” she said, pointing that a worker of her party, Peoples Democratic Party, too was killed and his house burnt.
“We have to try because killing a militant is easy but killing militancy is difficult,” she said in her address at the passing out parade of 696 constables at the school in Manigam, on the outskirts of Srinagar.
She reminded the policemen that terrorists too could wear fatigues and carry guns like them, but they should always remember that the policemen were the protector of the lives of people and there was a great deal of difference between the two
“Before enforcing law among the people, you will first have to enforce the law among yourselves. You will have to follow the law and not compete with militants by doing what they do,” she said.
Ms Mufti’s speech was a sharp contrast to her statements after a mob in June killed police officer Ayub Pandith outside a mosque in the heart of state capital Srinagar. That incident had come against the backdrop of police officers being brutally killed by terrorists. She had then warned people to behave and credited the police for “showing maximum restraint because they think they are dealing with their own people”. “It will be difficult if they lose patience,” she had said.
The Chief Minister’s attempt to reach out to the people comes against the backdrop of the central government, which had been blamed for what critics called a heavy-handed approach in Kashmir, taking baby steps to reach out to the people in the Kashmir Valley.