Burhan Wani's death and a year of living dangerously

Will relook into circumstances leading to Burhan’s killing: J&K govt.

J&K Education Minister Naeem Akhtar. File photo

J&K Education Minister Naeem Akhtar. File photo   | Photo Credit: PTI

PDP-BJP coalition government spokesperson and senior minister Naeem Akhtar speaks to The Hindu about the encounter, the fallout and the way out.

Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani’s killing has fuelled a fury on streets of Kashmir Valley, sparking a cycle of violence. Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party (PDP-BJP) coalition Government spokesperson and senior minister Naeem Akhtar speaks to The Hindu's Peerzada Ashiq about the encounter, the fallout and the way out.

There are reports that Hizbul commander Wani bore very few bullets on his body, suggesting the encounter was short lived and there may have been chances of arresting the most-wanted militant commander. What is the fact?

Preliminary reports suggest it was a routine search and cordon operation based on a tip-off of militant presence in a village in south Kashmir’s Kokernag area. The security forces zeroed in and the encounter ensued. I don’t think they knew in advance who were hiding in the area. We had not anticipated the fallout of Mr. Wani's killing.

Will the Government re-look into the circumstances leading to the killing of the militant commander and later the civilian killings?

Right now, we want to control the situation and ensure there is no more civilian killing. Yes, the Government is ready to re-look into how Mr. Wani was killed and revisit each civilian killing to understand if any excessive force was used against protesters.

So far 35 civilians are dead and more than 1,365 protesters are injured in street clashes? Isn’t it alarming?

We are assessing the figures of dead and injured. We are still in the firefighting mode right now. Let peace return so that in calmer atmosphere we are able to assess the situation and see if a political input is needed.

Tens of thousands of people participated in the funeral of slain Mr. Wani in Tral. Isn’t it also a statement from the people?

Yes, there is alienation among people and it is need of the hour that alienation is addressed like the 2003-2008 processes started internally and externally. People of Kashmir are ready to respond positively to such processes. The process of engagement has to start. People yearn for sense of dignity and empowerment.

Experts believe the ground swell in the wake of Wani’s killing was also a reflection of the pent up anger among masses brewing for long now? Could the Mehbooba Mufti Government had avoided some contentious issues raked up in the recent past?

Yes, there were issues that could have been avoided by this regime. I do not want to divulge more. However, we are optimistic that a long term political engagement, transparent development policy and creation of employment opportunities will make a difference in J&K. Democracy should come as a liberating force for people and restore dignity. It’s an evolving mechanism and not a tool to maintain status quo on issues.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah has expressed surprise at Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti missing the high-level meet organized by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Tuesday?

It’s childish on his part. We would not like to respond to it. In fact, we are minesweepers of the National Conference. Look at the media reports that suggested how hanging of Afzal Guru played out on the ground in Kashmir Valley and drove boys to the arms in the Valley.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 9:32:20 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Will-relook-into-circumstances-leading-to-Burhan%E2%80%99s-killing-JampK-govt./article14488533.ece

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