The Congress policy panning group spent almost two days in Kashmir Valley trying to gauge the mood among the general public and the leadership here.
The group comprising of several Congress leaders was headed by the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The group was constituted in April this year after the situation in Kashmir worsened because of widespread protests and clashes following the unprecedented poll boycott during Srinagar Lok Sabha bypolls on 9th April. Eight civilians were killed and around a hundred protesters injured by government forces on the polling day for Srinagar-Budgam constituency.
The group claimed to have had a series of fruitful meetings with various stake holders in the state. The policy planning group has last week visited Jammu and carried out a similar exercise. At the end of their visit to the Valley the group claimed that more than 40 delegations comprising over 12,00 people met the visiting delegation and put forth their views.
Outreach by any political party or even the government meant to achieve the resolution of the Kashmir issue is a welcome. But that does not mean that the movement forward should be restricted to visits alone and no concrete steps are initiated to actually help to reach the objective of laying out a plan for a resolution.
If the visit by Congress leaders carried any meaning and showed some sort of sincerity then the visit of these leaders should not have actually happened. Congress party is showing a concern for a cause which the party leadership already knows and besides, the party had already announced a group of interlocutors who after spending considerable time in the state have already submitted their recommendations, which if implemented at the time of recommendation would have saved everyone a lot of trouble.
The interlocutors appointed by the Centre in 2011 included Journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and former Information Commissioner MM Ansari. The interlocutors had in their report emphasized the need to reduce the Army’s visibility and address human rights violations urgently.
The trio has also suggested that the government consider reviewing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which many allege endows the Army with sweeping powers without corresponding accountability.
The interlocutors also recommended that the Disturbed Areas Act should be lifted – that means those areas categorised as “disturbed” would automatically be exempt from AFSPA.
The Congress policy planning group stayed here for two days and felt that they have spent enough time to get to know about the ills affecting Kashmir.
But ironically, they forgot that the interlocutors appointed by them only when they were in power travelled over 12 months to all 22 districts of the state and met nearly 700 delegations to gauge possible solutions to the Kashmir crisis.
Though the separatists refused to meet them, yet many believed that the recommendations offered by the group should have been implemented to create an environment of trust and belief.