Senior citizens plead with New Delhi for dialogue


A group of senior residents of Kashmir have written to the president of India and begged him to initiate a dialogue for a lasting solution of the Kashmir dispute. The group comprises of academics, doctors, advocates, journalists from all the three regions of the State and from different religious groups.

“We, the group of concerned citizens shocked by reign of terror let loose by the Security Forces and Jammu and Kashmir Police across length and breadth of the State to quell mass uprising in 2016, approached your Excellency through a written memorandum dated September 6, 2016. We are however dismayed by absence of any response, worth the name. Not only has there been no let up in atrocities heaped on general public, but new tools of oppression have been employed to suppress the people and trample upon human rights. The Kashmir dispute, oblivious of the ground realities and historical background, continues to be viewed as a law and order problem with military response as the answer,” the prominent residents write at the outset.

It is a first that such a diverse group from all the regions of J&K speak about excesses of security forces in Kashmir and seek an end to it. “The ban imposed by the State Government on ICT tools, social media and TV Channels, has come as a shock, to one and all. The freedom of speech and expression is an inseparable part of right to life and personal liberty. It is only fair that the ban on ICT Tools, social media and TV channels, is recalled immediately.”

“The human rights violations perpetrated by the Central and State Governments, and their agencies in Jammu and Kashmir have broken all records. The streets continue to be painted red with the blood of innocents. The number of people killed in Security Forces firing, mostly on vital parts of the body or beaten to death during last less than a year has crossed 125. Pellet guns continue to be the first choice of the Security Forces to deal with street demonstrations in Kashmir, while in other parts of India, pellet guns have never been used, even with higher level of violence, resorted by protestors,” the memorandum mentions.

“Your Excellency, the Kashmiri students enrolled in educational institutions within and outside the State have of late attracted wrath of Security Forces and the hate mongers inimical to Kashmir. The Security Forces and Police forcibly enter into educational institutions, violate their sanctity and ruthlessly thrash the students.”

“The happenings in Jammu and Kashmir since we submitted the memorandum for Your Excellency’s kind consideration, justify our concern for gross human rights violations and reinforce our stand that an unconditional dialogue with all stakeholders with whom such dialogue has been previously held for resolution of Kashmir dispute, is need of the hour and an attitude of unconcern may push entire subcontinent to an avoidable catastrophe.”

“We once again implore Your Excellency to impress upon the Government of India to forthwith initiate a direct, meaningful and unconditional dialogue with all the stakeholders with whom such dialogue has been held from time to time, for a lasting solution of Kashmir dispute and for durable peace in South Asia. We further request that the Government of India and State Government be asked to immediately lift ban on social media and TV Channels and put an end to the human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir. We reiterate our demand for constitution of an Inquiry Commission headed by a retired Supreme Court Judge to inquire into the human rights violations and loss to property during last one year and to award compensation to the victims of such violation and their dependants,” the group appeals.

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