Kashmir parties meet president as Valley remains tense

PTI8_20_2016_000108B Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah talking to reporters after a delegation of all opposition parties from the state led by him called on President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi | PTI

As curfew continues in the Kashmir Valley bringing normal life to a stand still, a delegation of opposition parties from the state met President Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi on Saturday afternoon and presented a memorandum demanding initiation of a political dialogue and immediate steps to bring an end to the use of excessive force against civilians.

"The failure of the central government to acknowledge that the issue of Kashmir is largely of a political nature has worsened the already volatile situation. The central government's refusal to deal with the situation through a political approach is disappointing and can have serious long term implications on the peace and stability of the state," said the memorandum.

Senior CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, who is part of the delegation, told THE WEEK that they had apprised the president of the situation in the Valley and expressed their deep grief over the mindless use of force by the central and state governments against the civilians. The situation in the Valley remained volatile after the death of scores of civilians in clashes with security forces.

Tarigami said the response of the central government as well as the state government had not only been inadequate but also irresponsible. He said the delegation had asked president Mukherjee to prevail upon the central government to initiate a political dialogue to resolve the situation as well as put an immediate stop to the use of arms like pellet guns against the protesters.

"We request your Excellency to impress upon the central government to initiate a credible and meaningful process of political dialogue without any further delay. We also request you to influence the central and state governments to stop the use of lethal force against civilians in the Valley," said the memorandum.

The delegation from Kashmir comprises leaders from the National Conference, Congress, CPI(M) and Democratic Party Front among others. The delegation is led by former chief minster Omar Abdullah who has already demanded a judicial inquiry into the killings of civilians, and has accused both the NDA government at the Centre and the BJP-PDP led state government of failing to control the situation.

The delegation, however, has not stressed for any inquiry in its memorandum. The delegation is expected to meet leaders of all political parties in the capital as well as former judges of the Supreme Court seeking their support to resolve the problem.

CPI national secretary D. Raja, who had participated in the all party meet called by Prime minister Narendra Modi earlier this week, said the BJP government was not clear on how to resolve the problem and was not keen to spell out the political initiatives.

"The situation is very grim and the agitation has spread to the countryside where children in the age group 10-15 years are agitating on the streets," Raja told THE WEEK. On the Opposition parties' demand to send an all party delegation to Kashmir, Raja said the government had told them that the groundwork had to be done before such a visit.

"The government is trying to control the situation by force, using the central paramilitary forces, and that is why the curfew continues," he said adding that the need was to initiate a political process at the earliest and initiate a dialogue with all sections of people and all the stakeholders to restore peace and normalcy in the Valley.

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