Abdullah expressed grief over the deaths of civilians killed in protests here since June 11. “My heart bleeds, and in their hour of grief I am with the bereaved families,” he said, adding that nobody can be so stone-hearted as not to be touched by the happenings and no eye can be without tears over the loss of lives. The chief minister also expressed grief over the loss of lives in the recent cloudburst in Leh and said that the government would take every step for the rehabilitation of the affected families and restoration of infrastructure. Admitting that no economic or employment packages can heal the wounds, Abdullah said economic development was also an essential component of the well-being of the state and its people.
He announced that 50,000 youth will be engaged by the government within the next few months. “While prime minister has constituted the C. Rangarajan committee to address the employment problem in Jammu and Kashmir, on the occasion of the holy days of Ramadan, I announce that the state government will engage 50,000 youth in the government within the next few months to improve the public delivery system in public services.” He also appealed to separatist leaders to come to the table for talks and play their role in solving the Kashmir issue.
The chief minister has been facing sharp criticism for his handling of the latest uprising in the Kashmir Valley during which over 55 people have been killed, mostly in firing by security forces, since June 11. With Sunday’s shoe throwing incident, Abdullah joins the league of Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari, former US president George W. Bush and Chinese premier Wen Jiabao who have had shoes flung at them. Independence Day functions were also held at Ganderbal, Badgam, Pulwama, Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian, Kupwara and Baramulla district headquarters and they passed off without any untoward incident. Meanwhile, the Valley observed a total shutdown due to a separatist call who asked people to observe Aug 15 as a ‘black day’.