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Show mercy to Kashmiris: Mehbooba asks India-Pak

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Appeals PM to take lead; get J&K out of bloodbath; ensure peace on borders

 Srinagar, Mar 19: Chief Minister on Monday made a passionate appeal for dialogue and reconciliation while urging India and Pakistan to “show mercy and be kind” to people of the state by respecting the ceasefire agreement.

Addressing the people at Mendhar Poonch after visiting the family which lost five of its members in yesterday’s cross-LoC shelling, the Chief Minister said it is unfortunate that the people of border areas in the State like Poonch, R S Pura, Nowshehra, Uri, Karnah etc. are paying a heavy price in the wake of continued shelling across the borders in the State.

She appealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take lead in getting Jammu & Kashmir out of this bloodbath and help these people in leading peaceful and normal life. She also appealed the leadership of Pakistan to see the logic of peaceful engagement and dialogue with India as wars in the past have yielded nothing except devastation, death and destruction.

Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh; Minister for Relief, Rehabilitation, Reconstruction & Disaster Management, Javed Mustafa Mir; legislators, Shah Muhammad Tantray, Choudhary Qamar and Yashpal Sharma were present on the occasion.

The Chief Minister recalled the decade-long peace along the borders and an atmosphere of reconciliation within the State which followed after the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s initiatives of reconciliation and dialogue in the State.

Similarly, she said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took the bold step of visiting Lahore but unfortunately incidents like Pathankote almost stalled the process. Better late than never, she said adding that when she last met the Prime Minister she appealed him to act like an elder brother and persuade Pakistan for a peaceful engagement and work jointly against poverty, unemployment and deprivation.

Mehbooba Mufti assured the audience that she would continue to advocate cessation of hostilities along the borders and between the two countries as was pursued by late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed which gave the people of the State, particularly those of Poonch, a major relief and a sense of a peaceful life.

Terming the partition of the country as unfortunate, the Chief Minister said the people of the State never-ever had wanted that but unfortunately are paying a heavy price of the same.

“What was the fault of these five persons or this elderly mother?” she asked while referring to yesterday’s victims of cross-border shelling.

She said it is very unfortunate when people elsewhere are demanding better facilities, residents of border areas in the State are asking for bunkers, which is no less than a grave because incentives of development and progress are only meaningful when one is alive to enjoy them.

Describing the residents of border areas as country’s first-line of defence, Mehbooba Mufti said these are the people who have guarded the territorial integrity of the State and the country. She said her government has created two battalions of IRP comprising people of the border areas. She assured the people that whatever due would be done for them including creating avenues of employment, strengthening of health facilities and road connectivity.

… hands over ex gratia relief to shelling victims

Jammu, Mar 19: A day after five members of a family were killed in Pakistani shelling, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today visited the affected village in Poonch district and handed over an ex gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.

Mehbooba also handed over cheques of Rs 3 lakh each toward the educational expenses of the two daughters of the family who too were injured in yesterday's shelling incident in Balakote sector, an official spokesman said.

Accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Javed Mustafa Mir and several legislators and senior civil, police and Army officers, Mufti announced that medical expenses of the injured girls would be taken care of by the government and assured a job to the brother of the deceased, the spokesperson said.

The Chief Minister announced the construction of 15 community bunkers in Balakote, stationing of one bulletproof vehicle and improving health facilities and road connectivity in the area, he added.

Earlier, Mehbooba had tweeted that she met the displaced families and victims of shelling. "Met with displaced families & (and) victims of shelling in Poonch this afternoon. A stark reminder that our future doesn’t only depend on the conflicts that take place, but more so on the solutions we offer in response to them," she wrote.

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