Amid ‘azaadi’ slogans, hundreds of residents of north Kashmir’s Langate area on Wednesday pledged before New Delhi-appointed interlocutors “not to pelt stones at security forces if allowed peaceful protests to raise issues and their political aspiration fulfilled as per their wishes.”
Two members of the three-member group of Home minister P. Chidambaram-selected interlocutors, academician Radha Kumar and journalist Dilip Padgoankar, traveled to remote Langate constituency represented by independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rashid, widely known as Engineer Rashid, in Kupwara district, more than 90 km north of Srinagar.
“We have unfurled three flags white, black, white and red here. While white represents people’s desire for peace, black reflects mourning the state is going through after the deaths of 112 protesters in the summer unrest and red shows people’s resolve to render sacrifice to fulfill their aspirations,” said MLA Rashid, while addressing thousands of people at a local school in Langate.
When the sitting MLA asked the participants, which included 60 violence victims since 1990, if they wanted India, Pakistan and azaadi, the participants in the public rally raised slogans in favour of ‘azaadi’. The violence victims were asked to sit at a place of prominence during the interaction with the interlocutors.
The participants were also asked to pledge not to hurl stones. “Now ball is in Delhi’s court. It should guarantee there will be no human rights violations. Also, it should ensure slogans will not be replied with security forces’ bullets. This is pre-conditions from people not to indulge in stone throwing,” Rashid told the Hindustan Times.
The MLA suggested to the interlocutors to include the United Jehad Council, a conglomerate of militant groups active in Kashmir, in the dialogue process.
After listening to tales of victims’ of alleged security forces’ torture and killings, interlocutor Kumar said: “I am sorry for what you have gone through. I am impressed today to have a meeting with people who came with open heart. I heard your pain and anger and will convey the same to the Centre. As a woman I feel your pain,” said Kumar, who was flanked by chief interlocutor Padgoankar.
She said the Prime Minister had asked the interlocutors to interact with people to know ground situation. “I promise cases of violations will be investigated,” said Kumar.