The former Chief Minister's comments were a response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent comment asking Kashmir to choose between tourism and terrorism.
"I want to tell the Prime Minister that tourism is our life, but the one who is pelting stones is not bothered about tourism. He is ready to starve and die," Mr Abdullah said. "But the Prime Minister must understand that he is pelting stones for the nation. The young men throwing stones were sacrificing their life for the resolution of Kashmir (issue)."
Mr Abdullah has been seen as going soft on separatists since arch-rival People's Democratic Party's victory in the 2015 assembly elections. In December, he had triggered a political storm after expressing willingness to work with the separatist Hurriyat Conference for a resolution of the Kashmir issue.
The stone-pelting protests had made an appearance in Kashmir valley in 2008 and they have been seen many times over the following years. During the five-month protests last year following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, thousands of protesters had targeted the police and security forces with stones.
In its aftermath, Ms Mufti had said young people who pelted stones were in "distress" and cited unemployment and restlessness as the biggest challenges of her government. She has also repeatedly underscored the need for parents to keep their children at home.