India Today Conclave Revoke AFSPA in phases if situation improves, says Mehbooba Mufti
Stresses for outreach; says Art 370 basis of Centre-State partnership
Enjoy spring in Kashmir for better relations
New Delhi: Jammu Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Friday while commenting on the possibility of revoking the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) from the state said: “Last year I felt we needed more security forces… at some point of time – six months or a year from now – if the situation improves, we need to think about revocation of AFSPA from parts and see if it works.”
Her remarks assume significance as the ruling alliance partners in Jammu and Kashmir – PDP and BJP –are not on the same page on AFSPA revocation in the state as the saffron party stressed that the controversial law should not be revoked unless peace and normalcy is restored in the state.
Mehbooba was addressing the gathering on day one of the 2017 India Today Conclave.
“We need to reach out to the people of Kashmir, its youth. Army must be more proactive in reaching out. We also need to think about revocation of AFSPA in phases, and see the outcome. It won’t happen soon, but we should think about it. You can’t ignore regional leaders, competition and cooperation is important,” she said.
Commenting on the governance in the militancy-hit state, Mufti reiterated the proposition that J&K needs to be treated differently due to prevailing circumstances. “We are a border state, our sensitivities are different. We need to be treated differently because we are victims of skirmishes between the two countries. We get everything that we need from other states,” she said.
Insisting that Jammu and Kashmir is a safe state, Mufti also urged people to visit the picturesque state. “I would like to invite people to come and spend time with family, not just come and invest. Despite encounters, it is one of the safest states”.
The CM said: “We are lagging behind for political reasons, we are a border state, we need hand-holding because we are on the border. We need help from all over the country. It’s not just Article 370, it’s not an impediment, even Maharashtra had a brush with Article 370.”
Mufti added a heart-felt plea: “Keep coming with your family, even with encounters going on, Kashmir is the safest place for women.”
On Pakistan, she said: “Of course, realities are different; we have a role in India’s relationship with Pakistan. We are the victim of skirmishes between India and Pakistan. But in my experience, no Union minister has said ‘no’ to us.”
On the occasion, the Managing Director of the Group, Mr Kavinder Singh told the Chief Minister that his company is keen to have its footprints in the State and would be willing to work in consultation with the Department of Tourism.
The Chief Minister directed the Managing Director, JK Tourism Development Corporation to coordinate with the executives of the Group to forge an alliance in which there is a qualitative increase in tourist footfall to the State by exploiting the so far hidden destinations and bringing niche clientele to these places.
Advisor to Chief Minister, Prof Amitabh Mattoo; Secretary, Tourism, Farooq Ahmad Shah; MD, JKTDC, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary besides members of delegation from Mahindra Group were present in the meeting.
In her meeting with the representatives from ESSAR Group, the Chief Minister discussed about the developing opportunities in the State and asked them to expand their offshore activities like the Call Centres to the State thereby creating job opportunities for the local youth. She asked them to explore other business avenues in the State as well which would go a long way in creating employment opportunities for the local youth.
Mr Anshuman Ruia, Director ESSAR informed the Chief Minister that his group is working on setting up a Call Centre in the State and in this regard necessary groundwork is being done.
Mehbooba Mufti asked for expediting the process to set up the Call Centre and in this connection assured all support from the Government.
Earlier, Mehbooba Mufti met the Chairman of Reliance Group, Mukesh Ambani and discussed with him various business ventures to be set up in the State.
The Chief Minister also addressed the India Today Conclave in the morning.