Asserting that guns will not solve any problem, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti today hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi will complete the process started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee to address the state's problems which she attributed to the "mistakes" by successive central governments, starting from Jawaharlal Nehru.
In her maiden Independence Day address as chief minister, Mehbooba made an emotional appeal to the youth indulging in violence, telling them not to be misled by the "vested interests" who want to keep Kashmir burning, and prevent the beautiful valley from turning into another Syria or Afghanistan.
Speaking against the backdrop of over month-long unrest in the valley triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, she questioned people who have been indulging in violence as she underlined that any remedy could be found through dialogue in a great democracy like India.
Emphasising that any propaganda like attempts to erode the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is false, she urged the people to give her time so that she could work on the plans and programmes she had charted for peace and progress of the state.
"Gun will not solve the problem. Guns has not solved any issue," Mehbooba said, adding there is no way other than the dialogue to resolve problems and address grievances.
"People of Jammu and Kashmir are not bad, nor is India bad. Somewhere mistakes were made with regard to elections. The leadership of the country -- from Jawahar Lal Nehru till date -- and the parties, it is their mistake," she said.
The Chief Minister said she too had a grievance at the way Kashmir issue has been handled over the years.
"I also have grievances. People of Jammu and Kashmir joined with such a big country, not considering the religion, and preferred a democracy. Why has our democracy remained confined to casting votes?
"The biggest part of democracy is dialogue. We have resolved so many issues but why have we failed to take forward the dialogue
process here? Where have made a mistake?
"Why did it take till 2002 for the (fair) election system to reach Kashmir? Why did our system and leadership here and in Delhi in 1987 elections usurp the rights of those people (now separatists) who could have become MLAs, ministers or chief minister? They wanted to take oath of Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir along with the Constitution of the country. There is no fault of people of J&K in it," she said.
Mehbooba said the separatists were then looking for alternatives to National Conference and Congress but "it was not allowed to happen by the leaders here and there (Delhi)".