We the members of Jammu and Kashmir's civil society wish to welcome this august delegation here, in this hour of immense grief and suffering, to the people of this State.
We are of the firm opinion that you respected members of Indian Parliament, who believe in the supremacy of democracy and the rule of law, will understand and help in addressing the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with internationally recognised democratic principles and the rule of law. We also believe that you fully appreciate the fact that no credible democratic system can exist, nor can a people be expected to live in peace, under tight and humiliating military control, extra-democratic manoeuvring and undemocratic political and administrative systems.
The events of the past six decades in general and those of the past three months in particular are testimony to the fact that the voice of the people of Jammu and Kashmir cannot be muzzled despite the State's repressive measures, which are totally untenable in this modern age.
Today a semblance of calm has been established in Jammu and Kashmir only after enforcing a strict curfew, deploying tens of thousands of armed forces, large scale detentions, a complete media blackout, a ban on sms services, and so on.
The free hand given to armed forces to kill and maim civilians, while enjoying complete immunity, is unacceptable to the people of Jammu and Kashmir State. People's spiritual, physical, economic and social spaces have been greatly infringed because of a massive military presence in the State. No economic packages and cosmetic administrative measures can be a substitute for demilitarisation and a life based on political justice and rule of law.
We sincerely believe India has a key economic and political role to play in the emerging world order. However, its intense pre-occupation with Jammu and Kashmir is hurting its image of being a humane, forward-looking and accommodative democracy. This long pending political issue is also hindering India's positive engagement with its neighbours, resulting in unfavourable political, strategic and economic situations for it.
Towards sustainable peace in Jammu and Kashmir, ending the six decades of political uncertainty here, and India's transition as a more confident economic and political superpower, we believe the government of India needs to embark on a two-pronged strategy:
1. Immediate measures for de-escalation and confidence building
For this we call upon your good offices to help initiate:
a) Release of all political prisoners, including children and youth arrested during the past three months.
b) Removal/withdrawal of bunkers and other security establishments from all civilian areas (pre-1989 position)
c) Fixing responsibility for civilian killings, fake encounters, including those carried out at the Line of Control (LoC) by army officers for promotions and cash prizes
d) Initiation of legal action against those members of armed forces responsible for the killing of innocent children, students, youth and other civilians.
e) Withdrawal/revocation of draconian laws like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) and Public Safety Act (PSA), etc.
f) The return of all those people who have migrated from the State in the wake of the 1990 situation.
f) Immediate cessation of civilian killings and other human rights violations
2. Long term steps towards a result-oriented trilateral engagement with Islamabad and Srinagar to address the Jammu and Kashmir dispute
a) Phased, time-bound and verifiable demilitarisation and engagement with main stakeholders
b) Facilitating re-opening of physical road connections between Jammu and Kashmir and its neighbouring regions for trade/commerce as it existed prior to 1947
c) A meaningful dialogue with Srinagar for the final settlement of Jammu and Kashmir.
‘ Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule .' — The Buddha.
Abdul Majeed Zargar, financial analyst; Dr. Altaf Hussain, writer-practising paediatrician; Anwar Ashai, social activist; Arjimand Hussain Talib, writer-columnist; Bashir Ahmed Dar, ex-Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education; Hameeda Nayeem, academician-activist; Dr. Javaid Iqbal, columnist and practising doctor; Noorul Hassan, former Chief Conservator of Forests; Quratul Ain, academician; Z.G. Muhammad, writer-columnist; Arjimand Hussain Talib, spokesperson, Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS).