Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Talks With All Stakeholders, No Compromise On National Sovereignty: Kashmir Resolution

An all-party resolution has appealed for peace and dialogue with all to resolve the Kashmir crisis, emphasising that there can be "no compromise on the issue of national sovereignty." The unanimous resolution came today after a three-hour-long meeting in Delhi of 26 parliamentarians from 20 parties who visited Jammu and Kashmir, where over 70 people have died and nearly 10,000 have been injured in violent protests in the last two months. 

 Sources said the next phase of the government's political outreach in Kashmir will include sending smaller groups of parliamentarians to Kashmir to talk to various sections and groups. 

 Today's resolution makes no mention of Kashmiri separatists, but asks the central and state governments to initiate dialogue with all stakeholders, seen as an indication that the separatists could be included. Opposition parties urged the government at the meeting to soften its stand and talk to separatists too. 

 The Left's Sitaram Yechury said there was no discussion at today's meeting of a scale-down in security and facilities provided to the separatists. Mr Yechury was among individual MPs snubbed by the separatists when they tried to reach out to them in Srinagar. 

 But government sources said a review of the perks extended is on after the conduct of the separatists, who also rejected an offer of talks extended by Mehbooba Mufti - as chief of the ruling People's Democratic Party and not in her capacity as chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir. 

 Today's resolution has appealed that steps be taken to reopen schools and other institutions in Kashmir. It also requests the government to ensure the security of citizens and security personnel in the Valley. 

 Some opposition parties brought up the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFPSA which is applied in "disturbed areas", seeking that it be removed from civilian areas in Kashmir. Sources said the government explained to delegates the limitations of reviewing the imposition of AFPSA. 

 Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah criticised the resolution as a "tame and sterile appeal." He also tweeted, "I'm struggling to find a single achievement that the all party delegation can lay claim to after visiting J&K. Nothing comes to mind as yet!" 

 At the meeting today, sources said, not a single national opposition party accused Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's government in Jammu and Kashmir of failing to handle the Kashmir unrest. Such charges against the state government came, the sources said, only in memorandums from Kashmir-based opposition parties and groups. 

 Hundreds of such memorandums and differing views of MPs were collated by the government in a summary that was placed before the MPs today. The compilation was presented with the caveat that this was not the view of the centre or the Home Ministry.

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