Srinagar: Union home minister Rajnath Singh spoke at length today about the need to protect and nurture the children of Kashmir -- his remarks directed not just at terror groups or parents in the Valley, but the nation at large. He also took a dig at Pakistan, saying, "Pakistan should stop terrorist acts emanating from their soil. They say they want to halt it. If they are not able to do so, why don't they take their neighbor's help?"
The minister's words came in the backdrop of prolonged stone throwing protests in Kashmir and its terrible human costs. For more than six months after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, protests had continued in Kashmir, in which many died and more than a thousand were injured.
Since then, many of the young men from Kashmir have joined the ranks of Pakistan-sponsored terrorists. The Central government has put in place several initiatives to bring them back to mainstream.
The children of Jammu and Kashmir, Rajnath Singh said, were an asset not only of the state, but of the entire country. "It is inhuman to give stones to other kids... Every work should be impartial," he said, pointing out that a lot of students from Kashmir are succeeding in all-India competitive exams like UPSC, IIT and IIM.
"Many kids from here are in international sports... more than 85 kids (from the state) are gold medalists," added the minister, who, hours before, had met a kickboxing champion, 9-year-old Tajamul Islam. In his address, Mr Singh held up the example of the child from a Bandipora village, who won the world title in 2016.
"Tajamul Islam -- she was such a bright kid... What are we doing? We need everyone's help," said the home minister, who is on a two day visit to the state with a peace initiative. Besides reviewing security for Amarnath yatra, he also expected to explore two crucial issues -- the possibility of extending the Ramdan ceasefire and talks with the separatist group Hurriyat, sources said.
Earlier today, the minister had spoken of the Narendra Modi government has a "lot of love" for the state and plans to change its face and destiny.