Opposition parties, cutting across political lines, slammed the Centre over excessive use of force in Jammu and Kashmir, and cautioned the government that bullets can’t bring a solution to the current unrest in the Valley.
During the discussion on the latest Kashmir crisis – arising out of the clashes between the protesters and security forces – in Rajya Sabha, Opposition parties also urged the government to immediately start a dialogue process with the Kashmiri people.
Congress leader Karan Singh said, “I have spent 70 years watching developments in J&K. This time, there has been unprecedented outburst of anger and frustration. If young people are blinded, our people are blinded. If we say they are part of India, then India must share their pain.”
Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal asked the government to understand the sentiments of the Kashmiri people. “You can’t stop a revolt with the guns. Our leader Mulayam Singh Yadav has said if you go on a war against Pakistan, we will stand by you. But if there is a need to change policy, you have to do it with a brave heart,” Agarwal said.
One by one, the Opposition leaders slammed the government over its handling of the Kashmir situation and questioned why this government is not following the political process the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government started.
JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said, “In Atalji’s government there was a political effort. Why is there so much difference between Vajpayee’s government and this government?”
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also reminded the government about the Vajpayee government’s approach. “Narasimha Rao had said that sky is the limit for autonomy. Vajpayee spoke about humanity. Where is that humanity?”
The Left leader also took potshots at the government over its flip-flop on the Pakistan policy. “Sometimes we speak about 56-inch chest, and sometimes, we fly down to Pakistan to taste biriyani,” Yechury quipped referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unscheduled visit to Lahore to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
While all parties assured the government of their support and stressed on the need for security forces, they also expressed concern over the use of excessive force in the Valley during the last two weeks.
“Kashmir is not about its soil, it is all about the soul of Kashmir. I urge the government to please protect the soul of Kashmir even when there is a need for hard policing,” Trinamool Congress’s Derek o’Brien said.
BJD, CPI(M) and other parties also asked the government to probe into allegations of excessive use of force.
“Leader of Opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad talked of use of disproportionate force. The government must look into it. The youth and intelligentsia are alienated. It is unrealistic to simply blame everything on foreign hand. We are facing a serious problem of trust deficit. There is a need to introspect,” Karan Singh urged.
Yechury recalled how the government called all-party meetings on earlier occasions during crisis in Kashmir. Sharad Yadav told the government not to wait for an all-party meet, but take a decision to defuse the Kashmir issue immediately. SP, BSP and AIADMK asked the government to start the dialogue process.
AIADMK’s Vijita and CPI(M)’s Yechury also accused the government of failing to fulfill promises made to Kashmiri people.
“Give them more education and employment opportunities. Common people are affected because of militant activities. The government must take constructive measure to restore peace,” the AIADMK leader said.