The Opposition in the Rajya Sabha urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to break his silence on the ongoing unrest in Kashmir and demanded the Centre initiate a political process to defuse the crisis that has claimed more than 50 lives.
Cutting across party lines, Opposition leaders urged the Centre to stop the use of pellet guns – that were considered “non-lethal” weapons but have already killed five people and left hundreds with serious injuries -- on protesters and send an all-party delegation to the state.
“Hindustan ka taj jal raha hai, par uski garmi Delhi tak nahi pahuchti (India’s crown is burning but the heat hasn’t yet reached Delhi),” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said, urging Modi to speak on the violence in Kashmir.
The month-long violence was triggered on July 8 after security forces gunned down top insurgent leader Burhan Wani, a popular figure in the Valley. His death sparked massive protests with tens of thousands of Kashmiris clashing with security forces.
The police have clamped a curfew for almost an entire month and chief minister Mehbooba Mufti appealed for peace but anger continues to simmer in Kashmir.
Mufti met Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Monday to discuss Kashmir issue while the opposition has demanded a discussion in Parliament.
Raising the issue in the Zero Hour, leader of opposition Azad said no state in independent India has seen 30 days of continuous curfew. He said it has paralysed the administration, shut down educational institutions and led to near zero attendance in government offices.
“In such circumstances, we want to awaken the government ... We feel the government and the prime minister are watching the situation deteriorate like a silent spectator,” he said.
Over 8,000 people, including security personnel, have been injured while 410 eye surgeries and 1,650 other surgeries are reported to have been done because of the use of pellet guns on protesters, Azad said.
He said 1018 incidents have been reported, and more than 1000 youth are in prison.
“Please do not consider this as a law and order issue. It is a political issue too,” Azad said.
Citing social media comments on Modi not making any statement on the Kashmir unrest, Azad said people are eager to listen to his views on the situation.
He asked the prime minister to call an all-party meeting where political leaders can offer solutions and express their sympathy with the people of Kashmir. This should be followed up with an all-party delegation visiting Kashmir to assuage the feeling, the senior Congress leader added.
Sitaram Yechury of the CPI-M said there was nothing working in the Valley except armed forces.
“More than 1000 incidents of firing have happened. More than 8000 are injured and 60 dead,” he said describing the use of pellet guns and inhuman and criminal”, he said.
Yechury said even Israel does not use pellet guns against Palestinians and argued the situation couldn’t be solved by law and order machinery alone.
D. Raja of the Communist Party of India also said the use of pellet guns should be stopped.
Samajwadi Party member Neeraj Shekhar said, “The youths killed were Indians or not? There is no statement from the prime minister or home minister... What message are we sending?”
Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav said that the government’s silence on this issue is hurting.
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government is ready to debate the issue.
“We want peace in Kashmir... and people of Kashmir have repeatedly defeated powers that have tried to disrupt peace. We are ready to debate on the issue,” Naqvi said.