Press Trust of india

‘No peace, it’s just silence of graveyard in J&K’

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Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir has no peace but just “graveyard silence”, Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari claimed Saturday, as he accused the BJP of selling the Union Territory’s resources to outsiders, all of whom, he asserted, will have to “wind up and go” after a popular government is formed.

He also accused the BJP of using Kashmiri migrant Pandits as an “election material”, and invited the community to live in their homes in Kashmir before the party ensured their re-settlement at their own places.

“People in J&K are worried as (government) policies are making their lives miserable… the youth are suffering and they are being driven towards taking to arms or drugs,” Bukhari, a former minister, told reporters here.

Flanked by senior party colleagues and former ministers including Ghulam Hassan Mir, Usman Majid and Dilawar Mir, the Apni Party president said over 10 lakh people are directly or indirectly linked to the mining sector but leases were granted to contractors from outside.

“These are our resources and should have been reserved for the people of J&K. When there will be a popular government, all of them have to wind up and go from here,” he said.

He attacked BJP for its alleged failure to re-settle Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley and said “the government is using them as election material like posters and banners”.

On a question about the re-settlement of the Pandits in the Valley, he said, “I am of the belief that unless Kashmiri Muslims welcome them with an open heart, the rest of others (talking about their resettlement) are only showing them lollipops.”

Pointing towards his colleagues, he said, “We all belong to the valley and appeal to the community to start living with us in our homes. We assure you of re-settling at your own places thereafter.”

He asked the government to allow normal prayers at Jama Masjid in downtown Srinagar and other places of worship which are still closed in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

Asked about his opinion of the situation in Kashmir, he said that considering different aspects one can say that it is not a peaceful situation, but graveyard silence prevails there.

“There is a need for restoration of political setup at the earliest to provide relief to the people. Our traders are suffering and people are worried,” he said.

He said it is not terrorism which is a big challenge but an army of youngsters who need to be engaged, and “we are only driving them towards frustration and they are picking up guns or resorting to drugs.”

“We are seeing frequent protests by unemployed youth, whether aspiring for their recruitment in CISF, BSF or border battalions. Is this our agenda to finish the youth of J&K?” he said.

The Apni Party leader also alleged local officers in the bureaucracy “are not being given responsibilities. You will only find officers holding top positions from outsiders.”

On the ongoing hijab controversy, he said “Our country is secular, a word which is embedded in the preamble of the constitution. We hope we are living in a secular country.”

He alleged the government is forcing mediapersons to behave like a “government gazette, which is condemnable”.

The Apni party president also demanded a thorough investigation into the recent death of two persons from Kashmir, one in Himachal Pradesh and another in Punjab.

“It is a matter of investigation how they died. The people of Jammu and Kashmir should be taken care of in different parts of the country as the people here take care of the people from outside,” he said.

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