SRINAGAR: Calling for unconditional release of youths arrested during the prevailing crisis in Kashmir, National Conference's working president, Omar Abdullah, has asked the Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to own up the responsibility for civilian killings in Kashmir this summer.

Addressing the first convention of the party in summer capital Srinagar since the civilian uprising broke out against the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani, Abdullah said the J&K government must withdraw all cases booked over the last nearly five months of unrest in the Valley.

“Mehbooba Mufti blamed (Congress leader) Ghulam Nabi Azad for the 2008 unrest and held me responsible for the 2010 agitation. Going by her own logic, she is then responsible for the prevailing crisis. She should accept the responsibility,” Abdullah said, addressing party delegates at NC headquarters yesterday.

More than 60 civilian protesters were killed in 2008 following the Amarnath land row agitation and over 124, mostly teenagers, were shot dead in retaliatory action against protesters in what came to be known as the Kashmir intifada of 2010.

Criticising the chief minister for "double standards", Omar Abdullah, who was the chief minister of J&K in 2010, said Mehbooba Mufti told the parliamentary delegation that the teenagers who were killed had gone out to buy milk and purchase toffees.

"Today, she is mocking the slain youths (who were killed since July 8 this year) by saying that they had not gone out to buy milk or toffees. How do you find these youth guilty now. You are holding a father, who put his son in grave, responsible for his killing. Today, you are holding a mother responsible who saw her son dying and you are holding a sister responsible who saw her brother dying,” the National Conference leader said.

At least 96 civilians, mostly teenagers, have been killed and over 14000 injured since the killing of Burhan Wani by security forces in an encounter at south Kashmir's Kokernag village on July 8 this year.

Demanding unconditional release of all people arrested during the prevailing crisis, Omar Abdullah said there has been a "complete breakdown" of law and order in the Valley and the state administration has ceased to exist over the last more than four months.

"Despite this, we did not seek dismissal of the PDP-BJP government, like PDP did in 2010. Why do you have to go and beg before Prime Minister for everything? As Chief Minister, I released youths during my tenure. I didn’t go and beg before the Prime Minister. You are creating more problems than offering solution to the problems of people,” said Abdullah.

(Cover Photograph BASIT ZARGAR)