Kashmir oppn parties meet PM Modi, demand immediate ban on pellet guns
The parties say they want to impress upon the Centre to start a dialogue “with all stakeholders” to solve the Kashmir crisis. The Opposition is likely to ask the prime minister to rethink his policy’ of not talking to separatists.india Updated: Aug 22, 2016 14:35 IST
Kashmir-based opposition parties on Monday demanded an immediate ban on pellet guns and requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to open talks with all stakeholders in the Valley, where 67 people have died in the ongoing unrest.
Led by former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah, the eight-member delegation met the Prime Minister in the morning to discuss the situation in the Valley, caught in violent protests for more than 40 days now.
“We emphasised that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is more political in nature. If we are unable to find a political solution to it, we will be repeating our mistakes again and again,” Omar told reporters after the meeting.
“The PM listened to us with patience.. the PM told us in categorical terms that development alone will not resolve this problem.”
The delegation, which arrived in the Capital on Saturday to mobilise the central leadership to “stop the cycle of killings in Valley’’, said failure to address the unrest would further deepen the sense of alienation.
“We are of the firm opinion that the central government should waste no further time in initiating a credible and meaningful political dialogue with all stakeholders to address the unrest in the state,” a memorandum submitted by the delegation said.
Using administrative approach to deal with a political situation had worsened the situation and “created an unprecedented sense of disaffection and disenchantment”, especially among the youth, the parties said.
The delegation also called for “an immediate ban on pellet guns that have caused grievous injuries in the current unrest and maimed and blinded many young boys and girls”.
Use of pellet guns, considered a safe option by the forces that face stone-pelting mobs, has triggered a debate, as they have also caused fatal injuries.
Pellets guns are used for crowd control across the world. They are effective over short ranges but when fired from close quarters they can be lethal.
The delegation’s meeting with the PM comes a day after finance minister Arun Jaitley called stone-pelters Pakistani stooges and said there would be no compromise with those indulging in violence.
But Omar Abdullah refused to comment on the matter. “Let’s not play politics over Jammu and Kashmir. We will get ample time to play political games later.”
The delegation, which includes CPM lawmaker Yusuf Tarigami and state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir, met the President on Saturday and called on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi a day later to convey “the seriousness of the situation”.
Clashes between civilians and security forces continued in the Valley on Sunday. A teenager, Irfan Ahmad, was killed in Srinagar when a tear-gas shell hit him in his chest, taking the death toll to 67.
Protests erupted in the Valley after Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in a gunfight with security forces in south Kashmir on July 8.