The spiralling of violence in Kashmir reverberated in parliament on Monday, with the government blaming Pakistan for the unrest while opposition parties insisted the authorities had mishandled the street protests which killed at least 43 people.
The opposition parties rounded on the Centre for “excessive use of force”, and cautioned the government that bullets would not douse the violence, triggered by the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani by security forces on July 8.
Later, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told NDA leaders the government had nothing to hide and that it would take everybody along on how to move forward. Modi’s remarks came after Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut suggested the PM – who had had a meeting over tea with his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif – also hold a ‘chai pe charcha’ with the people of Kashmir.
The violence in Kashmir is among a host of prickly issues facing the government in this session of parliament, where the latter hopes to win legislative approval for several key reform measures, including a long-pending Goods and Services Tax.
Faced with the criticism in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, the government blamed Pakistan for the violence. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Pakistan was the “sole reason” for the unrest.
“It is not television debates on the issue of J&K or anything else… the unrest is because Pakistan is creating the problem,” he said during a debate on the situation in Kashmir on the opening day of the parliament’s monsoon session.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh promised to review the use of pellet guns, blamed for most civilian injuries in Kashmir. He also offered to visit Kashmir for a dialogue with the people but state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti suggested they discuss the format for talks once normality returned.
“Whatever is happening in Kashmir is Pakistan-sponsored. The name is Pakistan but every act is na-pak (impure),” Singh said, adding that the country felt the pain of innocent Kashmiris suffering because of the violence.
Earlier, Ghulam Nabi Azad, the leader of the opposition in the upper house, said the government had not learned from its past mistakes. “Militants were always killed in the state. But this present environment did not exist even during the 1990s,” he said, referring to the early days of the Kashmiri insurgency.
“Youngsters have been killed in all the 10 districts of the Kashmir valley this time.”
Opposition leaders Sitaram Yechury (CPIM) and Sharad Yadav (JDU) demanded answers as to why the NDA government was not following the Atal Behari Vajpayee government’s policy which spoke of “insaniyat” in the handling Kashmir issue. Trinamool’s Derek o’ Brien urged the government to “protect the soul of Kashmir even when there is a need for hard policing.”
Congress leader Karan Singh termed the current situation as an “unprecedented outburst” of anger and frustration. “If young people are blinded, our people are blinded,” he said.
Many Opposition leaders asked for an all-party meeting and maintained that government must make a distinction between a civilian and a militant.
“The same bullet used to kill militants should not be used to kill children, women and youngsters. Should we treat them as militants?” the Congress party’s Azad said.