Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir's youth have been the "biggest casualty" of more than two decades of violence in the state, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday said and promised to "heal their scars" by securing their future.
"I admire your perseverance to go on, despite the cycle of violence that snatched your childhood. I promise to heal your scars by securing your future," Mehbooba said during meetings with youth delegations from different parts of the Valley.
The Chief Minister also asked youngsters to become role models in propagating the message of peace and harmony that Islam teaches.
"It is very disturbing to see our youth getting sucked into the vortex of violence when they should be attending schools and colleges," she said.
Referring to years of turbulence that have wreaked havoc on all growth indicators, Mehbooba said she wanted to bring the focus back on the potential of youth and channelise the same for rebuilding the state.
"Only peace and stability will enable us to invest in empowerment, education and employment of youth in the state. Increasing investment in young people is the key and this includes quality education and skill development that prepares you better for future opportunities," she said.
Mehbooba said she would work for creating an enabling environment that allows abundant employment opportunities for youngsters.
The Chief Minister vowed to mobilise all resources at her disposal to firmly entrench a system where merit would be the sole determinant of selection, either in government or private sector.
"I look forward to provide them a level-playing field to succeed collectively," she said.
"The government will try to tap the huge potential in tourism, hospitality, horticulture, industry and floriculture segments so that the avenues of productive employment are created for our youth," she said.
She sought co-operation of youngsters in creating a "feel-good factor" for tourists, which would go a long way in increasing visitors' footfall in the state.
She also batted for youth to take up agri-entrepreneurship in a big way, especially in horticulture sector where economic returns are very high.
Mehbooba also stressed on a more proactive role for Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) so that it reaches out to talented youngsters at the district level by enhancing their skills and providing them hassle-free access to finance.
Youth delegations from Kupwara, Baramulla, Budgam, Shopian, Pulwama, Ganderbal and Kulgam met the Chief Minister and brought into her notice various issues confronting them.