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Civil society meeting seeks restoration of rights in Kashmir

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Suspension of democratic rights in the regions of Jammu and Kashmir will affect prospects of democracy in the rest of India, participants at a discussion on the Kashmir issue stated on Sunday. The meeting organised by the Centre for Peace and Progress at the India International Centre here, was part of a series of Kashmir-related debates planned across the country.

“The issue is not what is happening in Kashmir. The more important issue is what is happening in the rest of India,” said Kannan Gopinathan, former IAS officer, who resigned from government service recently in protest against the lockdown imposed on Kashmir since August 5. The former government official said the government has portrayed the lockdown as the only viable option to avoid terrorism and loss of life. “That is what the country has been told. In reality a government should not ask us to choose between liberty and right of expression. A government that wants us to choose between liberty and expression is incompetent,” he said.

Addressing the gathering, Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Rajya Sabha MP said there is a need to protect relations between Srinagar and Delhi and ties between Srinagar and other parts of India. “I did not have the courage to protest against the Emergency in the 1970s. But there is an undeclared Emergency in India and we have to oppose it,” argued Mr. Aiyar.

The organiser of Sunday’s event, OP Shah, will next organise a similar meet in Srinagar on November 7. He said the dialogue with all sections of Indian civil society is the way out to normalise the situation in Kashmir and sensitise India about the challenges that lack of democracy in one part will throw up for the rest of the country.

“I believe in the Gandhian method. Open dialogue will help build peace and trust among sections of society,” said Mr. Shah urging more people to join the evolving national discussion.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 2:13:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/civil-society-meeting-seeks-restoration-of-rights-in-kashmir/article29872119.ece

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