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All-party team wants Kashmir talks with all stakeholders, panel likely

Burhan_wani_kashmir Updated: Sep 07, 2016 17:59 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji
Saubhadra Chatterji
Hindustan Times
Kashmir separatists

Srinagar residents shout slogans during the funeral procession of a 12-year-old boy, who jumped into the Jhelum --- allegedly to escape security forces.(Waseem Andrabi / HT Photo)

An all-party delegation that recently visited Jammu and Kashmir requested the Centre and the state government on Wednesday to talk to all stakeholders in the violence-hit state where 75 people have died in two-month-long street protests.

“The members of the delegation are of the opinion that there is no place for violence in a civilised society,” said a statement released after a meeting in Delhi.

“There can be no compromise on national sovereignty,” it said, a rebuff to separatists and calls for “Azadi”, or freedom, that have echoed in the Valley during the ongoing unrest.

Home minister Rajnath Singh, who had led the team of politicians, indicated to some opposition leaders that the Centre was considering a panel for talks with all stakeholders, including the Hurriyat, sources said.

The separatists had refused talks with the team, which was in the Valley on September 4 and 5 to take stock of the situation and suggest ways to restore calm in the Valley.

Normal life has been disrupted with separatists’ calling strikes and authorities imposing a rolling curfew.

The Centre is not planning a crackdown on separatists, sources said, a day after reports talked about scaling down of security, withdrawal of passports and scrutiny of the banks accounts of Hurriyat leaders.

Wednesday’s statement appealed for peace, expressing “serious concerns” over clashes between security forces and protesters.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, who was one part of the delegation that visited Kashmir, said the Left parties want Prime Minister Narendra Modi to restart dialogue with Pakistan when he visits that country for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit.

Pakistan holds a summit of the eight-member grouping in November.

The ties between the two countries have nosedived in recent months. The Centre blames Pakistan for the violence that erupted after militant leader Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight in southern Kashmir on July 8.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared Wani a martyr and his envoy to India dedicated his country’s Independence Day to the “Kashmir’s freedom”.

The next day in his Independence Day address on August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a departure from India’s foreign policy, raised the rights violations in Balochistan, PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Yechury also demanded that the government withdraw Afspa from civilian areas in the Valley that gives the forces sweeping powers to search and arrest.

The Left leader’s demands are in line with Kashmir analysts who have called for confidence-building measures to bridge the trust deficit. Lifting of curfew, a ban on pellet guns that have caused eye injuries and release of Hurriyat leaders are some of the steps that have been suggested.

Omar not happy

Omar Abdullah, National Conference leader and former J-K chief minister, termed the all-party delegation’s appeal “tame and sterile”, saying a sense of urgency to bring an end to the ongoing violence was missing.

Here’s the statement issued by the all-party team