The Left parties on Wednesday asked the government to take urgent steps to restore peace and normalcy in the Kashmir Valley by putting a stop to police firing on protesters and selectively withdrawing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Srinagar.
They also favoured discussions between the government and “all sections” of people to work out a solution to the Kashmir problem within India’s Constitutional framework.
“We are prepared to reach out to every section to work out a solution within the Constitution. All matters can be resolved through a dialogue,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury, who led a team of MPs to meet separatist leaders as well as displaced Kashmiri Pandits, told PTI here.
He said the prime aim of the all-party delegation led by Home Minister P. Chidambaram, which visited the State over the last three days, was to “share the agony and sufferings of the people there and express solidarity with them”.
The deaths of over 100 people in police firing “is completely unacceptable. This has to stop”, he asserted.
Regarding the meeting with Hurriyat leaders in Srinagar, Mr. Yechury said any solution to the Kashmir imbroglio has to be found within the framework of the Constitution and through discussions. “All sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, including the Pandits, will have to live together peacefully.”
Addressing a press conference, senior Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta asked the government to take “calculated risks” to defuse the situation and restore peace and normalcy.
Besides talks with “all sections” of the people, other steps he suggested included “selective withdrawal” of the AFSPA, release of all protesters who have not been slapped with serious charges, creation of a Parliamentary Committee on Kashmir and an economic package that includes revival of all central PSUs in the State.
On the meetings with separatist leaders, Mr. Dasgupta said barring the demand for azadi, all other issues could be resolved through continued dialogue.
Regarding Kashmiri Pandits, he said the government has failed to keep several promises aimed at rehabilitating them.
Asked whether the Omar Abdullah government should be dismissed, he said, “We had neither gone there to give him a certificate, nor were we there to demand his dismissal.”
Describing the Centre’s decision to send the all-party delegation to Jammu and Kashmir as “most positive”, he praised Mr. Chidambaram for his role in leading the Parliamentary team.
“We want him to take calculated risks to resolve the problems. He should use political wisdom and initiative to detach the common Kashmiri people from forces which don’t want normalcy to prevail,” Mr. Dasgupta said.
While “unprecedented” number of paramilitary forces were stationed in the Valley over and above the Armed Forces and State police, there was continuous curfew that had led to a near breakdown in supply of essential items and medicines.
While almost all public sector units were closed or on the verge of closure, education was the “greatest casualty“.
On top of all this, he said a resolution on granting of autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir was passed several years ago. “Nothing has happened to it.”
“Terrorists can only thrive on the anger or genuine grievances of the people. Several promises were made since the time of P.V. Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but nothing happened,” Mr. Dasgupta said.
Regarding Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj’s opposition to delegation members meeting separatist leaders, he said, “It is wrong to say that it was not a decision of the delegation. We made a suggestion to the leader of the delegation (Mr. Chidambaram) and a decision was taken by him.”
“What is the harm in holding talks with them (the Hurriyat). Should we not talk to Maoists? Should India not talk to Pakistan,” Mr. Dasgupta asked, adding that there were views ranging from azadi to Kashmir being an international issue and those wanting to remain with India.
“We told them you have friends in India who may support many of your demands, barring azadi India is a democracy and all views can be discussed,” he said.