Talking tough on terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik has said militants don't have "much of a shelf life" with more than 40 being killed since August and should not expect bouquets if they fire bullets.
Stone pelting has come down as has the number of local recruits in militancy, Malik said while describing the situation in the state as "not grave".
"It is simple. Goli chalaogay to goli chalegi, koi guldasta toh milega nahi (If you resort to firing, you will get a bullet in return. You are not going to get a bouquet in return)," Malik told PTI in an exclusive interview in Srinagar on Tuesday night.
He took over as governor of Jammu and Kashmir on August 23 this year.
"Militants do not have much of a shelf life. The situation is not grave. Since I have joined, about 40 militants have been killed, stone pelting has come down and the number of local youths joining militancy has also come down. I am satisfied that on this front there is no worrying situation," he said.
His opinion is based not just on official briefings but also on narratives provided to him by common people, Malik said.
The governor added that he had met several youth groups, opening himself to them and hearing them out.
"After talking to them, I came to the conclusion that the need of the hour is to address the youth between the 13-20 age group. The concerns of this age group need to be addressed first as they are frustrated," he said.
According to Malik, the youth are unhappy not just with New Delhi but also with Pakistan, local political groups as well as the Hurriyat and are unable to see any ray of hope.
"Therefore, there is need to establish contact with them and work according to their aspirations so they understand that the Centre is not against them," he said.
Discussing instances of educated youth like Mannan Wani -- the scholar-militant killed in an encounter recently -- taking to arms in the Valley, Malik said a narrative had been built on misinformation.
"Many literate people do other bad things. Having said that, in this (case) it was a case of pure misinformation on which he had built a narrative. I am helpless...many of the narratives of misguided youths are based on half knowledge about this great country. How many militants would there be? An exaggerated figure can put it around 400," he said.
For a country like India, getting rid of these 400 people is nothing, he asserted. But the effort is to end terrorism and not terrorists, the governor added.
"Here we are making attempts to kill the ideology of terrorism. Terrorism is not in the gun but in the mind... I will be making every attempt to set these minds free of the poison of terrorism," he added.
Citing Sri Lanka's Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as an example, Malik asked what it gained from terrorism.
"It had the support of many countries and its own navy and dedicated cadres. What did it achieve out of it except death and destruction. In today's world order, forget India, no one can break even a smaller country," he said.