Opposition parties in Kashmir which met in Srinagar on Wednesday decided to approach President Pranab Mukherjee to apprise him of the situation in the Valley and demanded a probe by a retired Supreme Court judge into allegations of ‘excessive use of force by security personnel’.
“We have decided to seek time from the President to apprise him about the real ground situation in Kashmir.
“We will try to persuade the (Union) government to take steps that will at least help in improving the situation in the Valley,” National Conference working president Omar Abdullah told reporters after the meeting at his residence.
He said the delegation of opposition parties will go to Delhi to press for a dialogue with all stakeholders and added that blaming Pakistan for everything that goes wrong in Kashmir was not the right approach.
The meeting was attended by several Congress leaders including JKPCC chief G A Mir, CPI(M) MLA from Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Independent MLAs Hakim Mohammad Yasin and Sheikh Abdul Rashid and former minister Ghulam Hassan Mir.
Omar said the opposition parties have demanded an inquiry by a retired Supreme Court judge into the allegations of excessive force by security forces while dealing with protestors. They will also seek a special session of the Assembly to discuss the situation.
“Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in her speech on August 15 has herself said that some elements in security forces did not follow her instructions (of exercising maximum restraint).
“So this is an opportune time for a judicial inquiry headed by a retired Supreme Court judge,” he said.
The former chief minister said all the opposition parties were worried about youths getting killed and injured in security forces’ firing, while the state and the central governments “mishandled” the situation.
“We are also worried that the political nature of Jammu and Kashmir has neither been accepted nor understood.
“When it has not been accepted, it is implied that no efforts have been made to find a solution to it,” he said.
Omar said Kashmir is a political issue which needs to be addressed politically.
“The first step is to admit and recognise the anger and then take steps to address it.
“So far that has not happened. The All-Party Meeting chaired by the Prime Minister (on August 12) happened because Parliament was in session and it was the opposition’s initiative that brought the issue twice for discussion.
“Otherwise, we would not have heard anything from the government,” he said.
Asked about the Centre raising the Balochistan issue, Omar said his personal view was that efforts should be focused on setting “our own house in order”.
“You (Centre) want to rake up Balochistan, by all means do it but there is a fire burning in Kashmir. It also should be addressed,” he said.
On Pakistan’s role, Omar said, “While Pakistan has a habit of fishing in troubled waters, I do not think the present situation is because of it.
“If we believe that Pakistan is behind all this, it means that we do not have to do anything to set things right,” he added.
“As far as dialogue (with Pakistan) is concerned, we have been votaries of dialogue for resolution. Jammu and Kashmir was made an issue between India and Pakistan way back in 1970s with the Simla Agreement.
“We believe Pakistan as our neighbour is a country that needs to be talked to… and it is something Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done in the past,” Omar said.