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Omar asks Mehbooba to resign for taking wrong steps during Kashmir unrest

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Tuesday demanded that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti resign for adopting a “casual” approach and taking wrong steps to control the situation during the unrest in the Valley. “Do you find yourself responsible for the situation?… If anyone is responsible for it, it is you and your government,” he said in the state Assembly.

Abdullah said the chief minister has not right to continue if she was unwilling to take responsibility. “You do not have any right to sit on the chief minister’s chair if you are unwilling to take responsibility for the situation. The leader has to own his mistakes and learn from it,” he said. The former J&K chief minister said when the news of the killing of three militants, including Burhan Wani, trickled in, “from the experience we have, we got to know the situation was not good”.

“When you heard that one of those killed was Burhan Wani, did you analyse the situation properly? What was your preparation? When we talked to the officers, we came to know that a casual approach was adopted to deal with the situation,” he said. “Surprisingly, the situation was by and large normal where Wani was buried but the rest of the Valley was on fire. Wrong steps were taken one after another.

“There was no governance and it was not known whether the situation was being handled from Srinagar or New Delhi. Different statements came from different people who had nothing to do with the situation,” he said. The ADG of CID had told a press conference that the chief minister, who also holds the home portfolio, was informed about the encounter, the NC leader said. “We want to know how much the chief minister was aware of the situation and what steps she took after that,” he said.

The situation worsened after July 8. People died and many were injured. After a few days, the chief minister said accountability would be fixed if excessive force was used. But she said parents should control their children and keep them at home, he said. “We know it is difficult to control kids after a certain age, but shifting government’s responsibilities to others is not justified. I am aware that when a reply would come from treasury benches, they would refer to 2008 and 2010.

“You cannot compare 2008 and 2010 to 2016. I have never held anybody else responsible for 2010. I never blame the parents of those kids for that situation,” Omar said. He said he never blamed Pakistan or his officers for the violence in 2010 and did not make anyone a scapegoat or point fingers at Opposition. “I was sitting on the CM’s chair at that time. What happened was my responsibility. The chair I held made me a father figure to take responsibility and I failed to fulfill those responsibilities,” he said, referring to the killing of more than 120 people in the summer of unrest in 2010.

He said the government urges the Centre to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir issue every time such a situation arises, but “forgets everything as the situation improves”. “People indulge in politics even in such a situation and make contradictory statements. Everybody else is held responsible…,” he said. Abdullah said contradictory statements poured in regarding ban on newspapers during unrest.

While Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu said there were no restrictions on newspapers, the state education minister, who is also the spokesperson of the government, said the situation forced them to ban newspapers, he recalled. Referring to the chief minister’s speech in the House yesterday, the NC leader said her government has been holding others responsible for the unrest.

“On one hand, you hold us responsible for the situation and on the other you ask us to come and hold discussions. “Just yesterday you said the situation is a result of 1987. You are the leader of the House. You have to take it forward. But you are doing what you used to do in opposition. We are more concerned about the situation,” he said.

He said the PDP leadership had in 2010 asked the Centre to remove the Omar Abdullah government but his party did not do the same when he met the Prime Minister to discuss the Kashmir issue. Picking holes in Mehbooba’s speech, he said: “You said if you knew Burhan Wani was there in the encounter, you would have given him a second chance. Therefore, the anger of people is justified. “You said the killings were unavoidable as people had gone to attack police and army camps but in the same speech you said you will not let go waste the sacrifices of these people.”

The chief minister has “miserably” failed in bringing normalcy to Kashmir and putting India and Pakistan “on the path of friendship”, he alleged and added that more than 100 people died in the unrest and the bilateral ties took a hit post surgical strikes. “While the chief minister said she would have given Wani a second chance, the Deputy Chief Minister in a function said he was killed by mistake.

“If you accept that you could have given a second chance to Wani and that he was killed by mistake then the anger of people is justified,” he said.