New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party minister Kapil Mishra caused a commotion at a tourism meet today when he confronted Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, seated in the audience and awaiting her turn to speak.
- Kapil Mishra asked Ms Mufti if she believes Burhan Wani was a terrorist
- Ms Mufti talked of the beauty of Kashmir and "tolerance as our strength"
- We are believers of Gandhi, Mehbooba Mufti said
"You must tell us if you believe Burhan Wani was a terrorist...It can't be that you don't accept Burhan Wani as a terrorist and then expect tourism to increase," said Mr Mishra, Delhi's tourism minister, referring to the 22-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist killed by security forces in Kashmir earlier this year.
To protests that his comments had nothing to do with tourism, Mr Mishra stood his ground and said, "But it has to do with tourism," recounting how a friend had to cancel a destination wedding in Jammu and Kashmir capital Srinagar because of the unrest in the state that has followed the death of Wani.
"We can fight Pakistan, we can fight terrorists, but how do we fight people who give shelter to terrorists," the AAP minister asked, reminding Ms Mufti that she had said Burhan Wani would "have been given a chance" had security forces been aware of his identity.
Ms Mufti held her smile, signalling that she would answer Mr Mishra, as organisers made repeated requests to the Delhi minister to tone down his speech, but to no avail.
When she spoke, Ms Mufti talked of the beauty of Kashmir and "tolerance as our strength," stating, "We are believers of Gandhi."
She addressed "my young friend here" and said, "Yes, there have been tensions in J&K but Kashmir is the safest place because no tourist has ever been harmed there," adding, "Kashmir has seen worse than this, but I hope and pray you will all visit Kashmir...come, visit and invest in us."
She also threw in a reminder for the Delhi minister. "I would say women, girls are safest in Kashmir...There is no fear, god forbid of getting raped in a moving car," Ms Mufti said in a reference to the shameful tag of "rape capital" that Delhi has earned as a city that remains unsafe for women almost four years after the brutal gang rape of a medical student in a moving bus shook the nation and prompted the framing of more stringent laws against rape.
However, Mr Mishra had left by the time Ms Mufti started speaking.