Mehbooba Mufti, chief minister of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, called for an abrupt end to a press conference in Srinagar at her residence after she was faced with a volley of questions from the media today.
Mufti stood up when she was asked if the government was "sidelining the political issue in Kashmir".
“We are not sidelining the issue of Kashmir. We also want a solution but it has to be peaceful. But some people are hijacking it,” she said.
While speaking at the press conference, the chief minister clarified her earlier statement about the percentage of people protesting on the streets.
“95 per cent people want peaceful resolution for Kashmir issue but the rest are hijacking it,” she said.
The press conference was called by Indian home minister Rajnath Singh. The media was expecting that he would call for its end, but Mufti cut it short. Mufti stood up from the dais even while the home minister could be seen sitting.
Adding that she has helped the youth of south Kashmir, the chief minister said, “I have saved them from (Special) Task Force, who they were afraid of. They used to take them for bonded labour."
This is for the first time that a chief minister has acknowledged the STFs 'dread' openly. Singh, who appeared calm throughout, made several attempts to cool down the chief minister.
“Mehbooba is among you. She belongs to you,” he remarked in an attempt to calm her down but, she continued to speak.
The home minister was accompanied by the Indian home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and senior officers of the interior ministry, who returned to New Delhi after the press conference.
Singh was on a two-day visit to Kashmir which has been witnessing mass protests since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in South Kashmir on July 8. Singh has met with as many as 300 people including political delegations from mainstream parties to take stock of the situation in the Valley.
The home minister's visit was seen as the first major political outreach by the central government to the state, which has been caught up in violence for the last 47 days.
Singh made an appeal to the people of the state to help maintain law and order and restore peace in the Valley where nearly 70 people have been killed and thousands injured in the ongoing unrest.