New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expressed his “deep concern and pain” over the situation in Kashmir and asked all political parties to work together to find a “permanent and lasting” solution.
Making an appeal for restoration of normalcy in the Valley where the unrest entered the 45th day on Monday, Modi emphasised that there had to be a dialogue. His direct reference to Kashmir came after several weeks of the spontaneous protests that began after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8. The PM parried Kashmir’s mention in his August 15 speech and did not meet Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti when she visited New Delhi earlier this month.
An official statement issued after his 75-minute-long meeting with a joint opposition delegation led by former chief minister Omar Abdullah said that the prime minister appreciated the “constructive suggestions” and reiterated his government’s commitment to the welfare of people.
The 20-member delegation comprising Omar and seven of his National Conference MLAs, Congress legislators led by PCC Chief GA Mir, and CPI-M legislator MY Tarigami called on the Prime Minister in the morning. The delegation made an appeal for a political approach to resolve the crisis in the Valley and to ensure that the “mistakes” of the past were not repeated.
Immediately after the prime minister’s statement was released, Omar tweeted, “We welcome the statement of the Hon PM and look forward to working together to find a lasting solution to problems of J&K.”
Omar told reporters after the meeting that the opposition members had requested the prime minister to find a political solution to the Kashmir issue.
In his statement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Those who lost their lives during recent disturbances are part of us, our nation; whether the lives lost are of our youth, security personnel or police, it distresses us.”
“The government and the nation stand with the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” the PM said, and suggested that all political parties should reach out to the people and convey the same.
He expressed his commitment to the development of the state and its people, and appealed for restoration of normalcy in the state.
Omar told reporters that the prime minister agreed with the delegation that development alone was not an answer to the current crisis.
“The prime minister told us in categorical terms that development alone will not resolve this problem,” Omar said. “I am not going to put words into the prime minister’s mouth nor am I going to draw further meaning from what he said.”
Omar told reporters that “We talked about the same thing that we have been talking with other leaders ever since we arrived in Delhi: that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, especially in light of the present crisis, needs to be understood correctly after which a solution is required. We emphasised that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is more of political in nature. Time and again such situations do arise but if we are unable to find a political solution to it, we will be repeating our mistakes again and again.”
Omar said the prime minister listened “with patience and accepted our memorandum”.
He also tweeted saying he is “grateful to @narendramodi ji for taking out the time to receive the delegation from J&K and giving us a patient hearing beyond allotted time.”
The leaders spoke of the killings of youths, among them a teenager named Irfan who was killed on Sunday night when a teargas shell hit him on his chest.
“We also implore you to announce an immediate ban on pellet guns and advise relevant quarters against the policy of mass harassment, raids and arrests as this has worsened an already volatile situation in the state and also goes against the values and principles of democracy,” the memorandum submitted to Modi said.
Asked about the statement made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Jammu on Sunday that stone-pelters were no “satyagrahis but aggressors,” Omar said, “I do not wish to say anything on this as the prime minister told us nothing like this. More importantly, let’s not play politics over Jammu and Kashmir. We will get ample time to play political games later.”
The memorandum submitted to the PM urged for political intervention in Jammu and Kashmir. “We are of the firm opinion that the central government should waste no further time in initiating a credible and meaningful political dialogue with all stakeholders to address the unrest in the state,” the memorandum said.
The delegation said, “Continued failure to address the unrest in Kashmir will further deepen the sense of alienation.”
The delegation had on Saturday met President Pranab Mukherjee and submitted a memorandum, requesting him to use his office to influence the Centre for initiating a political dialogue with all stakeholders in the state.
On Sunday, the delegation met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and apprised him of the situation in the state.
(With inputs from PTI)