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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

Kashmir unrest: SC pitches for dialogue between separatists, lawyers as first step to ‘normalcy’

Nearly 100 people have died in violence in Kashmir since militant Burhan Wani was killed last year.

india Updated: May 15, 2017 10:52 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A clash between CRPF men and students at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on Monday. Kashmir has seen a spike in violence this month since eight people were killed during an assembly by-election in the city.
A clash between CRPF men and students at Srinagar’s Lal Chowk on Monday. Kashmir has seen a spike in violence this month since eight people were killed during an assembly by-election in the city.(PTI)

The Supreme Court asked the Union government on Friday to facilitate talks between separatists and Kashmiri lawyers, paving the way for the first attempts to defuse tension in a region where nearly 100 people have been killed in waves of violence since last year.

The bench, headed by chief justice JS Khehar, told the representatives of the J&K High Court Bar association to use their influence in the region to open a dialogue with separatist Hurriyat leaders,

the “first step to bring normalcy” to the Kashmir valley.

During the hearing, the government ruled out engaging with the Hurriyat leaders, the political face of the anti-India movement in the region claimed by Pakistan as its territory.

The meeting, the bench told attorney general Mukul Rohatgi, should be facilitated only if the rules allowed it.

“The Centre is aware of the situation there and is taking all the measures,” Rohatgi told the court, objecting strongly to the HC bar association’s arguments that NDA government should hold “unconditional talks with the jailed Hurriyat leaders.”

The AG also said it was not for the court to commence a dialogue, but for the political parties.

The SC did not “appreciate” AG’s aggressive stand, saying, “what they say is that we are the bar association and we should be allowed to talk to them (separatists). Let them meet and talk. Court can always be a facilitator, though the solutions are somewhere else”.

The court said if Rohatgi felt the court had no jurisdiction then it would not hear the petition by lawyers’ body seeking a direction to stop the use of pellet guns by security forces in Kashmir.

“The leaders are under house arrest by the state government who would be told what the SC has asked for. If a request is made, then the state shall take a decision as per the rules”, Rohatgi told HT, when asked about the next step.

Allegations of human rights violations – including a video of a man tied to an army jeep - have soured relations between locals and security forces in the Valley amid increasing incidents of stone pelting and civilian deaths.

The apex court said it was disturbed to see photographs presented by the petitioners of people injured by pellet guns. But it told the Kashmiri lawyers that no progress was possible unless the protests abated.

“We can put it (pellet firing) off provided there is some reasonableness on both sides. You tell us what you would do if we direct the government not to use pellets for two weeks.”

Senior lawyers from the association demanded the government hold a dialogue, which the court ruled out for the time being, and also declined their plea to remove the army from the Valley. “If we do that everything will finish.”

“Most worrisome aspect is that children are getting involved. Girls are coming on the streets. In this heightened situation one cannot address the core issue. If you want to carry things forward all this must stop. You make a suggestion what you will do and then we can ask the Centre to take a reciprocal step,” the bench told the advocates,

The court asked the Jammu and Kashmir bar association to come back on May 9 with measures to curb violence if the use of pellet guns was stopped.

First Published: Apr 28, 2017 15:49 IST

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