Kashmir crisis: Mainstream politicians reach out to Hurriyat but situation on ground remains same

A number of mainstream politicians, even from the ruling BJP, have recognised separatists as key stakeholders in the Kashmir resolution process. Though they have held meetings with the separatists, there has been no improvement in the situation in Kashmir Valley.

Ishfaq Naseem May 25, 2017 19:15:56 IST
Kashmir crisis: Mainstream politicians reach out to Hurriyat but situation on ground remains same

A number of mainstream politicians, even from the ruling BJP, have recognised separatists as key stakeholders in the Kashmir resolution process. Though they have held meetings with the separatists, there has been no improvement in the situation in Kashmir Valley.

On Thursday, Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Hurriyat (G) member Shabir Shah met a civil society group led by former minister and Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, to hold discussions on a range of issues, including human rights violations by the armed forces.

The meetings that were earlier held between the civil society groups and Hurriyat have failed to make any impact as the recommendations made in these meetings were never implemented on the ground.

Senior BJP leader and former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha led the civil society group, Concerned Citizens Group, in October last year. The group met Hurriyat executive member Abdul Ghani Bhat and Democratic Freedom party chairman and Hurriyat (G) member, Shabir Ahmad Shah. They met both Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer and submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Prime Minister's Office, but none of the recommendations were implemented.

Kashmir crisis Mainstream politicians reach out to Hurriyat but situation on ground remains same

Mani Shankar Aiyar meets Hurriyat leaders and civil society group in Srinagar on Thursday. PTI

The Sinha-led group had held that the separatists are seeking dialogue with Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. They also highlighted that politicians have complained about the prevention of misuse of Public Safety Act (PSA) and pellet guns.

The group had observed in its report, “The Kashmiri leaders want to ban pellet guns and cannot understand why the Government of India is delaying this decision and why the Indian security establishment is reluctant to give up the weapon. The use of pellet guns has led to several people, including children – some as young as 4-years-old – being blinded or partially blinded. These weapons, the Kashmiris pointed out, are not used in rest of India, even under grave provocation. They were not used in the Jat agitation in Haryana, the protests against Cauvery water sharing in Karnataka or the Patel agitation in Gujarat. All these agitations have resulted in large-scale damage to public property and in some cases even in gang rapes.’’

On the misuse of the PSA, it had held that it was not required for a “victim to be produced before a magistrate and charged for up to a year. The amended juvenile justice act for the state does not allow the police to arrest minors under the PSA. Yet this has happened on a significant scale. The separatist leaders claim the number is about 6,000 while government sources place the figure at slightly less than half — at 2,500. Even this number is quite large.’’

The group had also held that Kashmiri separatist leaders believe that unless India and Pakistan talk there can be no permanent solution to the Kashmir issue.

Sushoba Bharve, member of the Sinha-led group, said that it was a matter of concern that the central government has not acted on the recommendations. “No action has been initiated on starting a dialogue, however, some of the minor recommendations like the release of minors from the prisons have been accepted by the state government,’’ she said.

The lack of action is despite the fact that many mainstream political representatives have reached out to the separatists. Last month, Sinha slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming that he had sought time for a meeting to discuss the Kashmir issue, but has not heard back from him.

Speaking at a seminar in Kashmir on Tuesday, Aiyar said that BJP president Amit Shah’s assessment of the Kashmir situation was “wrong” as a British Viceroy had also claimed that India’s problem was confined to only few areas. Shah had earlier stated that the Kashmir problem was restricted to few districts only.

The Hurriyat, which had clearly laid out in its constitution that any engagement on Kashmir would be made through tripartite dialogue to implement the UN resolutions that seek a referendum on Kashmir to determine its final accession, is also trying now to engage with New Delhi for peace in Kashmir. Hurriyat (M) spokesperson, Sahihdul Islam, said that most of the recommendations of the civil society groups have not been accepted by the Government of India. “We are meeting the civil society groups to make them aware of our position on Kashmir. We are highlighting the excesses which have been committed by the forces,’’ he said.

The meeting between the Hurriyat and civil society groups and Congress' initiative to constitute a policy planning group on Kashmir headed by former prime minister Manmohan Singh, is to mount pressure on the BJP-led government at the Centre to bring peace in Kashmir.

Congress vice-president GN Monga said that they would try that the recommendations are implemented by the Modi government. “ The government led by Modi has been reluctant to speak to all the stakeholders, but we will try and talk to Hurriyat as well as others for lasting peace,’’ he said.

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