After five-and-a-half-hour meeting, Mehbooba avoids media; meet calls for ‘inclusive’ engagement
By A Aalim Ahmad
Srinagar: The PDP-BJP coalition on Thursday convened an all-party meeting to discuss the prevailing situation in Kashmir. The meeting was held 13 days after government forces used unbridled force to quell a massive uprising that began after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in Kokernag on July 8 evening. The Opposition National Conference (NC) boycotted the meeting presided over by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. Barring the Congress, the meeting was attended by representatives of parties who have a single or no legislator in the assembly.
The five-and-a half-hour meeting was held at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex (SKICC) on the banks of Dal Lake to discuss the prevailing “law and order situation.”
Mehbooba did not speak to the waiting media persons while government spokesman Naeem Akhtar briefly talked about the resolution adopted at the meeting, which prominently appreciated the discussions held in both houses of the Indian Parliament over the recent events in Kashmir.
“The meeting took note of the empathy and sense of solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir reflected during the debate on the prevailing situation in the state in both houses of the Parliament,” an official spokesman said.
The meeting expressed “deep grief and concern” over the loss of life and injuries and called for converting the political consensus (in the Parliament) into a national initiative for addressing the problems confronting Jammu and Kashmir and its people.
The resolution adopted at the meeting called for inclusive engagement of all the stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir, for carrying forward the peace and reconciliation process. “The meeting observed two minutes’ silence to pay homage to those who lost their lives since July 8,” the spokesman said.
CPM General Secretary and Kulgam legislator MY Tarigami told Kashmir Reader that he highlighted the political nature of the Kashmir issue and told the participants that treating it as a law and order problem was a grave mistake, which had been committed by successive governments.
“The uprisings in 2008, 2010, and now in 2016 indicate that Kashmir has become a huge human tragedy, but those in authority, primarily in New Delhi, have continuously failed to respond to the crises,” Tarigami told the meeting.
He said governments have taken half-hearted measures and mostly the response has been to fire more bullets against the people.
“If such a situation arose in any other part of India, will the response be the same? The answer is a big no,” he said.
Several sitting and former legislators criticised the use of unbridled force and said that the situation could have been avoided if the forces exercised restraint.
Independent legislator from Langate, Sheikh Rashid, lamented after attending the meeting that it turned out to be an exercise “to appease powers in Delhi rather than a serious effort to mitigate the sufferings of the people of Kashmir.”
“For announcing free ration, you need not convene an all-party meeting. This is mockery and the reason for increasing disillusionment of the people,” Rashid said.
Congress leader GA Mir said that the government must initiate efforts to restart the dialogue process with the stakeholders in Kashmir.
Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh and former minister and Panthers Party chief Harshdev Singh were vocal against Pakistan, sources said.
A participant told Kashmir Reader that objection was raised on the agenda of the meeting itself, which described the prevailing situation as “law and order issue”. The resolution was adopted after some objections raised by legislators from Jammu, sources said.
Peoples Democratic Front leader Hakim Mohammad Yasin, Democratic Nationalist Party leader Ghulam Hassan Mir, Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Sanjay Saraf, CPI leader Rahman Tukroo, BJP state president Sat Sharma and others spoke in the meeting.
Cutting across the divide, political leaders assured their full cooperation in restoring calm and peace. They said no effort should be made by anybody to escalate the situation, the spokesman said.
Others who were part of the meeting were cabinet ministers Choudhary Lal Singh, Naeem Akhtar, Choudhary Zulfkar Ali, Sajad Gani Lone, Imran Raza Ansari, Chandar Parkash Ganga, Abdul Ghani Kohli, Advisor to the Chief Minister, Prof Amitabh Mattoo, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Navin Kumar Choudhary, and Commissioner Secretary Law, Mohammad Ashraf Mir.