Ameeting of all parties in Jammu and Kashmir has recommended that the centre announce a ceasefire with terrorists during the holy month of Ramzan and the upcoming Amarnath Yatra, said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
Representatives of all parties in the state will also seek a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she added. PM Modi is scheduled to visit the state next week.
Against the backdrop of a tourist being killed by stone-throwers, a first in Kashmir, and a spurt in violence in the valley, representatives of political parties in Jammu and Kashmir met today in Srinagar in a meeting called by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
The meeting comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state next week.
On Monday, a 25-year-old from Tamil Nadu who had come to Kashmir on a holiday along with his family, died after being hit by a stone in clashes between protesters and security forces on the outskirts of Srinagar. Ms Mufti has called called the incident a shame.
Last week, six civilians died and some others were injured in clashes with the security forces after five local millitants, including an assistant professor of Kashmir University, were killed in an encounter in south Kashmir’s Shopian. Of late, there has been a spurt in such clashes, with locals thronging encounter sites.
At the meeting, the chief minister voiced her concern, especially over the involvement of children in street protests and violence.
“Young kids are telling their mothers — we are going for an encounter. I want to ask, how can we improve the situation? As a government, we need to find solutions to improve the lives of the next generation, of the youth in colleges and universities,” Ms Mufti told the meeting.
Home ministry officials are worried about the recent spurt in encounters in the valley, particularly those in the past week. This year, as many as 45 young men from Kashmir have joined the millitant ranks.
The overriding sense at the meeting was in favour of a political outreach in Kashmir and the need for the national leadership to reach out, said senior PDP leader and minister Naeem Akhtar.
“Perhaps, the national leadership can take a leaf out of Vajpayee’s initiatives,” said Mr Akhtar.
The participants at the all-party meeting that the Jammu and Kashmir government convened in Srinagar on Wednesday agreed that political outreach was necessary in the aftermath of violence in the state that has left dead civilians, including a tourist from Chennai as reported.
“The general feeling is that there should be a political outreach on Kashmir,” public works minister Naeem Akhtar told reporters. The situation in the Kashmir Valley, which includes frequent encounters between militants and security forces, civilian deaths, stone-pelting incidents and militancy, were discussed at the meeting.
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Opposition National Conference and the Congress participated in the meeting at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre. The meeting was convened after Mufti met Governor NN Vohra on Tuesday evening to discuss the situation.
National Conference leader Ali Mohammad Sagar told the Hindustan Times that the government would have to stall Indian security forces’ Operation All Out, stop mass arrests and raids, and initiate dialogue. “They [the government] will have to start talking to separatists,” Sagar said. “We will be conveying these things in the all-party meet.”
Before the meeting, Jammu and Kashmir Congress President GA Mir said his party would speak about the failure of “the state and central government” in dealing with the situation in the Valley as per reports.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami said people in the valley were angry with the state’s political leadership and the “BJP leadership should take other parties on board to resolve the issue”, .He suggested that an all-party delegation meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and request that the government resume talks with Pakistan, “My party is of the opinion that oppressive security structures should be withdrawn from civilian areas, AFSPA too,” Tarigami said. “These two will be confidence-building measures.”
In the past few days, eight militants and six civilians have also been killed, while two children have been injured during a stone-pelting incident. Separatists called off their three-day strike on Tuesday in the aftermath of the tourist’s death.
In 2000, then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced a unilateral ceasefire with millitants during the holy month Ramzan in Kashmir. In 2003, he extended a hand of friendship to Pakistan, ensured a ceasefire at the border besides initiating a dialogue process with Kashmiri separatist groups.