The seven-hour long debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Kashmir situation witnessed parties across ideological spectrum stressing on the need for a political solution to the current unrest.
MPs also sought a ban on the use of pellets by security forces, resulting in grievous injuries to scores of Kashmiri youth. During the debate, Congress took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for choosing to speak on this issue in Madhya Pradesh, and not in the Parliament.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said, “If something happens in Africa, you (Modi) tweet, Pakistan is an enemy nation and still you speak when something happens there. It is good to show sympathy with all. But the crown of India (Kashmir) is burning. You must have felt the heat on your head, if not the heart.” This led to some angry exchanges between the Opposition and treasury benches prompting finance minister and leader of the House Arun Jaitley to intervene and urge member to keep politics out of the debate.
Resuming the speech, Azad said Kashmir wasn’t a mere law and order problem but “a complex issue”.
“Politics comes first, economics second, employment after that. If we talk about electricity, roads and water, and not about politics, it will be wrong.” He urged the government to talk to all sections of people in the state.
Veteran Congress leader Karan Singh said the government and the House should “introspect why thousands of youths have embarked on a path of destruction” in the Valley. Emphasising that Jammu and Kashmir was not an “internal” matter, he said, “We insist Jammu and Kashmir is an internal affair. I agree, but let us not forget that 50% of the original state of Jammu and Kashmir is not under our control. There is a very major international aspect to it. There is Pakistan, there is China.”
He said that the state, for which his father Maharaja Hari Singh “signed accession (with India) was 84,000 square miles”. “To say that we will not talk is not a mature response. When we say we do not need to talk to Pakistan, have we legitimised that?” he asked. “You got to keep the dialogue on,” he stressed.
Urging an immediate end to the use of pellet guns to quell protests, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, “We have to end the violence and the current bloodshed in Kashmir. Start a political process to bring an end to the problems of people of Kashmir.”
Nazir Ahmad Laway of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said, “The longer we take to resolve this issue, the harder it will be. Kashmiri people are not for guns, they are for this country.”