PDP furious over ally BJP minister’s ‘shoot stone pelters’ remark

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir’s ruling partners, PDP and BJP, differ on the issue on how to tackle the stone-pelting pastime of the Valley’s youth, and this may leave a mark on their two-year old relationship.

Hours after the State’s Industries Minister and BJP lawmaker, Chander Prakash Ganga, called for shooting down the “stone-pelters and traitors”, the PDP said it strongly condemns it as grossly insensitive remarks.

Ganga had while responding to a question about the stone-pelters of the Valley, told reporters in Jammu, “They are the traitors. Whether they live in the country or come from Pakistan, they can only be treated by bullets. If bullets are not there at least they should be punished, like beating them by canes. Mark my words and see whether they will pelt stones again. What ‘azaadi’ are they demanding?”

He also suggested that the stone-pelters be hit with shoes.

The PDP’s Vice-President Mohammad Sartaj Madni while reacting to it, said that such “disgusting” utterances are not only unjustifiable but perilous as well.

He said in a statement issued here on Thursday, “It is unbecoming of a senior minister in the government to dish out such a sweeping, sickening and intimidating statement against the Kashmiri youth.”

He said that Ganga’s statement is also in contravention to the stand of the State Cabinet on the issue, which in its meeting held in Jammu on April 18, expressed deep anguish over the loss of lives in the Valley.

The Cabinet also directed the security agencies to exercise maximum restraint while handling law and order situations to prevent loss of lives.

Madni said that instead of reaching out to the “distressed and alienated” Kashmiri youth and address their concerns, the “hawkish rhetoric” of “such fringe elements” has the danger of further adding to the alienation of the people and impeding the government’s efforts of restoring peace and calm in the Valley.

“Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had entered into an alliance with the BJP only with the objective of bridging the gulf between the people of different regions the State and taking Jammu and Kashmir to new heights of inclusive development and prosperity,” he said.

“Unfortunately the unwarranted statements of such fringe elements are negating the basic philosophy of this alliance,” he added.

The PDP leader who is maternal uncle of Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, said, “Instead of bringing the people together, such insidious statements are unfortunately only going to add to the void.”

He added that a responsible government functionary cannot be seen pitching himself against own people.

“We hope that good sense will prevail and the BJP leadership will take serious note of such uncalled-for statement from a senior minister of the party. Instead of provoking the situation in Kashmir, all the right-thinking people should try to find a way out of the present impasse by engaging with all sections of the society in Jammu and Kashmir,” Madni said.

Opposition National Conference has also taken exception to the minister’s remarks saying it could mark the onset of a dangerous drift.

The party’s chief spokesman Aga Syed Ruhullah said, “We are seeing the situation that is worse than nineties. It is very dangerous. It shows that the Cabinet is nothing. The Chief Minister has completely given up.”

The party’s youth wing workers took out a protest march from its headquarters and also burnt the effigy of the BJP minister.

Chanting slogans against Ganga and the coalition government, the protestors started marching towards Srinagar commercial hub Lal Chowk but the police intercepted them at the TRC intersection and persuaded them to return to the party headquarters.

The Congress has also condemned Ganga’s statement and said such statements are extremely unfortunate and will add more fuel to the fire.

“This is the most unfortunate statement. Nobody could have said such an irresponsible thing because we have known that stone pelters exist since long time. The first thing that the BJP did was to release the leader of the stone pelters Mr Mashrat Alam and today he is earning a mark in Kashmir. Along with him is Asiya Andrabi, who was also released by BJP,” Congress leader Brijesh Kalappa said.

The J&K’s regional National Panthers’ said remarks like these are unfortunate and unacceptable, adding one should go as per law and order before using such words.

“Such use of words by a minister belonging to Jammu and Kashmir government is very unfortunate and unacceptable in the philosophy of the democracy. If you have problem with something then take the help of law and order but such statements are condemnable,” NPP leader Bhim Singh said.

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