Azad asks youths not to go near the encounter sites

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Azad asks youths not to go near the encounter sites

Srinagar, Apr 2 (PTI) Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad today urged the youths in Kashmir valley not to go near the encounter sites as it was akin to playing with fire.

“I would not like the children to go to encounter sites, it is not good and I am not in this favour that children rush to the encounter sites. Obviously, it is akin to playing with fire,” he told reporters.

He said whenever there is a gunbattle between the security forces and the militants, people can be caught in crossfire if they go near the encounter sites.

“Whether he is an elderly person, youngster or a child, he will face loss in the crossfire. I am not a proponent of this, because our children could fall victims to the bullets,” Azad said, after addressing a joint rally of the Congress and National Conference at Damhal Hanjipora in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district which falls under Anantnag Parliamentary constituency.

The Congress leader said he would pray to Allah that the situation remains peaceful in the state because whenever it deteriorates the poor are the most affected lot, as their bread and butter depends on tourism.

“When situation is not peaceful, then tourists do not come here. So, those associated with the tourism sector becomes unemployed, at a time when unemployment in our state is at its peak,” he said.

Referring to the bypolls, the Congress leader said that the NC and Congress, which have entered into a seat sharing arrangement, would win both the parliamentary seats.

Congress’G A Mir is contesting from Anantnag Lok Sabha seat while NC chief Farooq Abdullah from Srinagar parliamentary constituency.

“We will win both the seats and fight the BJP resiliently because in the Rajya Sabha we have our voice but in the Lok Sabha there is no voice of Opposition from Jammu and Kashmir.

“In Lok Sabha, there are around 350 members of the government. So, if we want that the voice of Jammu and Kashmir people reverberates in Parliament, both of the opposition members should get elected,” he said.

Earlier, addressing the rally, Azad urged the people of south Kashmir to ensure the victory of the JK Congress Committee chief, as it would amount to unifying secular forces in the State.

Claiming that the secular fabric of the country as well as of the state was in “great danger”, Azad said there was a need to take effective measures to fight the menace of RSS.

The Congress general secretary said the upcoming by-polls is an opportunity for the people to safeguard their interests.

“Efforts are being made to harm the age-old tradition of brotherhood and harmony, but Congress is capable enough to defeat the forces hell bent upon harming the secular fabric of the country,” he said.

Azad claimed that there was “mass discontent” among the people due to the government’s misrule and mismanagement of the situation in the Valley.

“As a result, people in the entire valley are living in great fear,” he said, blaming the ruling dispensation for deep alienation among the people.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.