Karat calls for a strict no-firing policy to face stone-throwing crowds
Terming the current situation in Kashmir “extremely serious,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat on Monday said there was no justification for needless deaths when protesting youths were only throwing stones.
Talking to journalists, he said the CPI(M) was shocked at the death of 62 youths in the firing by the Central paramilitary forces and the police. These deaths could not be condoned and “we have a deep sense of sympathy with the families who have lost their young members.”
“There can be no justification whatsoever for these needless deaths when the protesting youths were only throwing stones. There has to be an immediate end to these brutal and inhuman police firings. There has to be a strict no-firing policy to face stone-throwing crowds. Other measures are to be resorted to in such confrontations.”
Mr. Karat said the CPI(M) did not share the view of the Government of India over Kashmir and “we are of the opinion that Jammu and Kashmir has to be treated as a special case and not in a conventional manner. Provisions of maximum autonomy are the only way forward to find a political solution.”
The process of dialogue should be open-ended and involve all sections of people. He urged the Centre to have a road map for talks. “I don't subscribe to the view of the Home Minister [P. Chidambaram] that protests were engineered.”
The CPI(M) leader said talks with Pakistan should also be resumed and it should cover all the issues. “It is necessary to take the dialogue in J&K forward.” The State administration should provide adequate compensation to those injured in the police action and rehabilitate those who had permanent disabilities.
To help restore normality, the administration should release all juveniles detained and lodged in prisons.
“We appeal to people, particularly the youth, to pursue their protests through peaceful means.”
Mr. Karat demanded that the government amend the Armed Forces Special Powers Act to remove certain draconian provisions. “Till then, the Disturbed Areas Act should be withdrawn from Srinagar and certain other civilian areas given the significant decrease in militant activities. This will make the use of the AFSPA redundant in these areas.”
The Prime Minister's assurance about zero tolerance of human rights violations should be implemented. Action should be taken against those guilty in the Pathribal incident and the recent Machil fake encounter.
Besides announcing Rs. 5 lakh for the injured in hospitals, Mr. Karat said the CPI(M) central committee's next meeting would be devoted to Kashmir and “we will come out with our own approach paper.”
The CPI(M), he said, had been consistently advocating the need for a sustained political dialogue with all sections in the State to eventually reach a political settlement. It was unfortunate that the UPA-II government had totally failed to pursue this path.
“The way forward is by recognising the special status of the State and the need to assure the Kashmiri people of their identity. These require a new political framework in which the bedrock is maximum autonomy.”
CPI(M) central committee member M. Salim and State secretary M.Y. Tarigami were present.