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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 38 New Delhi September 10, 2016

Kashmir: No Alternative to Dialogue

Friday 9 September 2016, by SC


An all-party parliamentary delegation has lately visited Kashmir. It held a meeting in the Capital today. Thereafter the following statement was issued on its behalf:

“The members of the All-Party Parliamentary Delegation have expressed concern over the prevailing situation in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The members of the delegation are of the opinion that there is no place for violence in a civilised society. There can be no compromises on the issue of national sovereignty.

“The members appeal to the people of the State to shun the path of violence and resolve all the issues through dialogue and discussion. The members requested the Central and State Government to take steps for dialogue with all stakeholders. The members asked the Central and State Government to take steps to ensure that educational institutions, government offices and commercial establishments start functioning normally at the earliest. They requested the government to take effective steps to ensure security for all citizens and provide medical treatment to citizens and security personnel injured in the agitation.”

Since July 8, when a top militant of the Hizbul Mujahideen, Burhan Wani, was killed in an encounter in South Kashmir, the latest round of agitation began and the situation has still not returned to normalcy. The violence accompanying the agitation has left as many as 73 dead, and they include two cops; several thousand are reportedly injured, many of them due to the use of pellet guns by the security forces that has led to the loss of eyesight of a large number of people.

As for CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, who was part of the all-party delegation, he said that Left parties want the PM to restart dialogue with Pakistan when he visits that country for the SAARC Summit in Islamabad next November.

He also demanded that the government withdraw the AFSPA from the civilian areas in the Valley. This Act gives the security forces sweeping powers to search and arrest people at random.

Former CM of J&K Omar Abdullah has termed the all-party delegation’s appeal “lame and sterile”, saying a sense of urgency to bring an end to the ongoing violence was missing therein.

Omar’s observation does indeed carry a lot of weight. But the fact is that the drafting of the appeal in itself was an achievement given the hostile approach of influential sections in the ruling dispensation. Take the case of Ram Madhav. A leading figure of the RSS sent by the Sangh to guide the BJP, he is currently the BJP General Secretary in charge of Kashmir. According to him, the call for a “political solution” to the Kashmir issue was a mere “slogan” raised by “romantic” people. He has also said that those not believing in the Indian Constitution must have be dealt with sternly.

He further called for a “particular strategic culture” in the country. For him “political solution” has only one meaning: “that J&K is an integral part of India—simple and final”. If the Hurriyat or certain other sections of public opinion in J&K are taking a tough line, so are persons like Ram Madhav. Still one has to wade through such impediments to restart dialogue with all stakeholders since there is no alternative whatsoever.

September 7 S.C.