Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday made a passionate plea to the young in the Valley to shun guns and stones and also vowed to continue to fight for the state’s special Constitutional status.
“No Muslim country makes those guns which are being used today by Muslims to kill each other,” the Chief Minister said while addressing the Independence Day function at the Bakshi Stadium here.
“Why are guns and stones being given into the hands of our children who should be holding books and pens?” she asked.
Amid heightened security, the nearly two-hour event to celebrate India’s 70th Independence Day passed off peacefully.
Mehbooba Mufti said the eclectic culture, brotherhood and honesty which have been the hallmarks of Kashmir were today seen more in Jammu and Ladakh regions instead of the Valley.
“For the last 30 years, we have been suffering while the world moves forward towards progress and development.
“We have the greatest natural resources in terms of beautiful landscape, forests and water resources. Despite that, we are moving backwards.”
The Chief Minister said whenever tensions mount between India and Pakistan, it was always the people of Jammu and Kashmir who suffered.
She also referred to the challenges the special status of the state was facing because this had been challenged in the Supreme Court.
“I have full faith in the Supreme Court. Whenever attempts have been made in the past to erode the state’s special status, the Supreme Court has dismissed such applications.
“I am confident the same fate will meet the present attempts to challenge our special position in the union of India.”
The Peoples Democratic Party leader thanked former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, whom she had met recently, to work out a joint strategy to defend article 35A of the Constitution which has been challenged in the apex court.
“Farooq Sahib gave me love and advice like a father. I must express my gratitude to him,” she said, referring to their meeting.
She said the battles for power would not come in the way of mainstream parties in Kashmir when it comes to defending the special status of the state.
The Chief Minister unfurled the national flag and took salute at an impressive march past at the stadium in the heart of the city.
Police, paramilitary forces and school children took part in the march. For the first time, a contingent of Uttar Pradesh Police also participated.
Cultural programmes and stunts by daredevil motorcycle riders of Jammu and Kashmir Police were key attractions.
Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, ministers, judges of the High Court and senior civil and police officers attended the function.
A three-tier security with multiple access control systems including closed circuit cameras and electronic surveillance equipment was put up to protect VVIPs and other participants at the Bakshi Stadium.
Mobile phone connectivity was suspended in the Kashmir Valley on Tuesday morning as part of the security drill.
Separatists have used mobile phone-triggered explosions in the past to disrupt official functions on January 26 and August 15.
The separatists called for a protest shutdown in the Kashmir Valley on Tuesday.