On 15 August, Kashmir's Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed to agitating youth in Kashmir to not be misled by vested interests of those who wanted to keep the Valley burning and reiterated that dialogue was the only way to resolve the state's issues. Her comments came amidst continued turbulence as the clashes in Kashmir have continued for 38 days.
In her maiden Independence Day address as CM, Mufti cautioned that Kashmir should not be allowed to become another Syria or Afghanistan characterised by instability and an absence of safety of life.
She urged people to give her time so that she could work on plans and programmes she had charted for peace and progress of the state and that the people should not be misled by false propaganda about attempts to erode the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
She blamed successive central leaderships, starting from Jawaharlal Nehru, for the problems of Kashmir and hoped Prime Minister Narendra Modi would address the issues, completing the process started by Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Speaking against the backdrop of over a month of protests, which were triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, she underlined that dialogue was the only way to find a remedy in the "great" Indian democracy.
With regard to protests over Wani's killing in a gun battle on 8 July, Mufti said, "It is not that an encounter has happened in Kashmir for the first time ..."
"Children should not be indulging in agitation. They should be going to schools and colleges. It is not for children to solve big issues ... Parents should also ensure that their children do not go out where their lives could be in danger."
She said "vested interests" were misleading the youth and making them a "shield" to pursue their nefarious designs, while their own kids are tucked away in safety.
"I will not talk about the separatists but about the middlemen for whom it [stone pelting] is a business. Find out where their children are while innocent kids are being used for protests," she said.
Noting that the current unrest had taken a toll on education in the valley, she asked, "What will I do with the IITs, IIMs, law colleges and five medical colleges when those who had to study there have been blinded. Who is responsible for it?"
Mufti said while she felt pained over the injuries and casualties among civilians, she felt equally bad for security personnel who also had been wounded in equal number just because they exercised maximum restraint.
The security forces have come to the valley from far off places like Bihar and Karnataka leaving their children and families behind just to perform their duties, she said.
At the same time, she said, "Wherever I feel anyone from forces has violated the directions for maximum restrain, action will be taken. This is not a mere statement. It will be done and you will be told about it."