New Delhi [India], Apr. 5 (ANI): Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh on Wednesday downplayed former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah's statement supporting stone pelters in the Kashmir Valley and said that his remarks should not be taken seriously.
"We should not to take his comments seriously. These types of leaders, who try to indulge in Kashmir politics, often get stuck with petty issues. As far as stone pelters are concerned, the Prime Minister said it that if we focus on stone building instead of stone pelting, the country would peddle its way towards development," Singh told ANI.
Urging the youth to refrain from participating in such activities, Singh said, "We have been seeing a lot of bloodshed, hence it is being reiterated that the parents, elders should guide the youth and ask them not to lose their life in line of fire."
Echoing similar concerns, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Hina Bhat accused the National Conference patron of misguiding the youth with his provocative statements.
"He is making these statements to misguide the youth. Kashmiri youth should not participate in stone pelting. They should focus on studies," Bhat told ANI.
Emphasizing that Kashmir would remain an integral part of India, Bhat said the issues pertaining to the Valley have been politicised.
"The Kashmir issue has been made a political issue. The people here have been getting basic facilities like any other states. I think this azadi slogan has become cancerous in Kashmir," she added.
Taking potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, Abdullah had earlier come out in support of stone pelters in Kashmir.
"If he (stone pelting youth) is giving up his life, he is not doing it for tourism. He is giving his life so that the destiny of this nation is decided which should be acceptable to the people of this place. This needs to be understood," he said at an election meeting in Sonawar constituency in Jammu and Kashmir.
"Recently the tunnel was opened. He (the Prime Minister) said the youth here should think whether they want tourism or terrorism. I want to tell Modi sahib tourism is our lifeline, there is no doubt about it. But he is a stone pelter. He has nothing to do with tourism. He will starve to death but he is pelting stones for his nation and there is a need to understand this," he added.
Abdullah, who was reacting to Prime Minister Modi's statement on April 2 at the inauguration of Chenani-Nashri tunnel that Kashmir's youth need to choose between tourism and terrorism, is contesting the bye-election to Srinagar Lok Sabha seat as the joint candidate of opposition National Conference and Congress.
The polling in the constituency will be held on April 9. (ANI)