Kashmir parties want Centre to start talks with separatists
Speaking to reporters after his two-day visit to Kashmir and ruling out any third party mediation, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said, “Pakistan is struggling with terrorism itself — the Lal Masjid was attacked — but, at the same time, [it] arms our youth. It has to stop.” Indicating a hardening position on separatists, Mr. Singh asked Pakistan to “change its mindset on Kashmir” and stressed that “terrorism in any form will not be tolerated”. Contrasting with the Union Minister’s stance, most political parties in J&K, including the Opposition National Conference (NC), asked Mr Singh to start a dialogue process with separatists and Pakistan to address the Kashmir problem. A delegation of NC, led by its working president Omar Abdullah, met Mr. Singh in Srinagar and called “for immediate political engagement with Pakistan and a cross section of internal stakeholders within Kashmir to pave way for a political solution to a political problem that has claimed thousands of lives.”
Criticising the Centre’s approach towards Kashmir, Mr. Abdullah said, “New Delhi’s lack of a political outreach was dangerous and could have adverse long-term implications.” “The Central government’s tried and tested formulations of dealing with the political sentiment in Kashmir operatively and militarily rather than thinking out of the box has further exacerbated the situation in Kashmir and created an unprecedented sense of disaffection and cynicism — especially among the youth — that could have adverse long term implications,” reads the NC memorandum submitted before the Home Minister.
Mr. Lone, also ruling alliance partner, held separate meeting with Mr. Singh and demanded “attention to people at the grassroots level.” The NC memorandum sought a judicial probe into civilian killings and demanded immediate restoration of mobile telecommunications and Internet services. CPI(M) leader M. Y. Tarigami, during his meeting with Mr. Singh, called for “an immediate end to brutal force against protesters.” He also urged the Centre to initiate a process of “unconditional dialogue with all the stakeholders, particularly the voices of dissent”. “There is urgent need to reach out to all sections of people particularly youth who feel grossly harassed and humiliated,” Mr. Tarigami said. Peoples Conference’s chairman Sajad Gani Lone, Peoples Democratic Front chief Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen and Democratic Party Nationalist head Ghulam Hassan Mir apprised Mr. Singh of the about Kashmir situation and possible way out, which, sources said, included initiation of a political dialogue with separatists. JKLF chief Yasin Malik described Mr. Singh’s visit as “useless effort aimed at deceiving the international community and people.” Mr. Malik alleged the Home Minister had “provided a clean chit to forces.”