MPs-civil society members conclude Kashmir visit

Accepting that Kashmir is a long-pending issue, the 11-member delegation of parliamentarians and civil society members on Sunday announced that it would push for a non-Bharatiya Janata Party and non-Congress committee of parliament members to bridge the widening gap between Srinagar and Delhi to “send a political message to the people.”

Before winding up its three-day visit to Kashmir, the delegation expressed the hope that immediate long-term measures would be evolved to address the problems in the State. They noted with disappointment the “non-serious” attitude of the government even after the all-party delegation suggested concrete measures to restore peace and confidence in the Valley.

The members emphasised that there was need to make those involved in the killing of over “100 innocent people, mostly young men,” accountable for their crime.

Communist Party of India national-secretary and MP D. Raja said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir demanded very serious “immediate and long term measures.”

“Tremendous sense of insecurity haunts the people of Kashmir, and there is a huge mistrust vis-à-vis the GOI [government of India]. Whatever promises the GOI has made in past have not been kept, so it needs to demonstrate sincerity,” Mr. Raja told a news conference.

He said the Public Safety Act, which gave “unbridled powers” to the police to book anybody, should be withdrawn and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act reviewed. A comprehensive dialogue, which accommodated the views of all the three regions of the State, was a must. “Composite dialogue with Pakistan should also be resumed forthwith.”

Telugu Desam Party's Nama Nageswara Rao said: “We need to pursue concrete suggestions to strengthen peace, and dialogue is the only way for that.”

Condemning the recent attacks on Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Syed Ali Geelani and Yasin Malik in Delhi and other places, Janata Dal (Secular) general-secretary Kunwar Danish Iqbal said “it was against the spirit of democracy” and added that “the situation here was very disturbed.”

Jawaharlal Nehru University's Kamal Mitra Chenoy assured the people that they were not alone. “We will work for a joint committee of MPs from both Houses to formulate a roadmap for the Kashmir solution. We are greatly shocked by the situation and insensitivity of the government.

Professor Chenoy said talks could not be held to listen to only grievances, but “also to the political aspirations of the people.”

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said there was simmering rage. “There is beginning of peace, and our visit has ignited some hope,” he said. “The meetings with people have touched each one of us and we will work for healing your wounds.”

Asking the government to review its policy, CPI (Marxist) MP Bansa Gopal Chowdhary said the “life of youth was in danger. Restoring confidence in the system should be the priority.”

Voicing reservation over the appointment of interlocutors, Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP) leader Ram Vilas Paswan said he had nothing against the mediators as individuals, but “a political person should have been associated with the process.” He advocated dialogue to “understand the meaning of the Azadi demand.”

The team was scheduled to meet Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, but could not get an appointment with him. Other members of the team included LJP leaders Shoib Iqbal and Sanjay Saraf, academician Anuradha Chenoy and journalists Seema Mustafa and Sheela Bhatt. The visit was organised by the Centre for Policy Analysis.