Civilian killings unacceptable, says Mehbooba

Mehbooba Mufti meets victims’ families in Handwara

Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, today flew to Kupwara and chaired a high-level meeting to make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation that has arisen in wake of protest demonstrations, triggered by Wednesday’s incident at Handwara.

She also met with the victims’ families to offer her condolences and held an interaction with the prominent members of the civil society here to defuse the tense situation so that peace and normalcy is restored in the region.

Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Kumar Singh, accompanied the Chief Minister.

Also present were Minister for Rural Development, Justice and Law, Abdul Haq Khan, Minister for Social Welfare, Sajjad Gani Lone, MP, Fayaz Ahmad Lone, MLA Kupwara, Bashir Ahmad Dar, Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma, DGP, K. Rajendra Kumar, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Naveen Kumar Chaudhary, Deputy GoC, Kilo Force, Jarken Gamlin, ADGP, CID, S. M. Sahai, Divisional Commissioner, Asgar Hassan Samoon, IGP, Kashmir Zone, SJM Gillani, DIG, NKR, Uttam Chand, DC and SSP Kupwara.

Speaking on the occasion, Mehbooba Mufti made it clear that no civilian should come in the harms’ way while dealing with law-and-order situations. She said she had a telephonic conversation with Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, late last evening and also met Army Commander, Lt. Gen. D. S. Hooda, and told them that incidents like the ones at Handwara and Natnusa are unacceptable and come as a major setback to the efforts of the State government in consolidating peace dividends in the state.   

“I have told Gen. Hooda to exercise maximum restraint while dealing with law-and-order situations,” she said, adding the Defence Minister has assured her of time-bound investigation into the unfortunate incidents that led to the death of civilians during protests at Handwara and Natnusa so that exemplary punishment is given to those found guilty.

While interacting with the members of the civil society, the Chief Minister sought their cooperation in restoring peace and normalcy in the frontier district.

The Chief Minister said she wanted to be with the people at this hour, grasp the sequence of events that led to the cycle of violence and the action taken by the law-enforcing authorities. She said she was deeply saddened by the series of unfortunate events which led to the death of four young boys and a woman.

“I never dreamt of coming to Kupwara like this after taking over as the Chief Minister. It is most unfortunate,” Mehbooba Mufti said.

While being briefed about the prevailing situation, the Chief Minister said the Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) should not remain a mere word but become a potent tool while dealing with law-and-order situations.

Earlier, Chief Minister immediately after her arrival here, met with the bereaved family members of the victims and assured them of justice and all possible support. She said she is deeply pained by their grief over the loss of lives of their dear ones.  

The Chief Minister expressed solidarity and conveyed her heart-felt sympathies to the victims’ families.