New Delhi, April 21: A Delhi based citizens’ group on Friday called for a political outreach, including dialogue with the separatist leadership.
The group, headed by senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) minister and former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, warned against a repetition of 2016, that saw a five-month long unrest. “Nobody in his right mind should want a repetition of the events of 2016 – not the government and certainly not the Kashmiri civilians,” said a joint statement.
The statement was also signed by justice A.P.Shah, Wajahat Habibullah, Salman Haidar, Nirupama Rao, Aruna Roy, Shekhar Gupta, Prem Shankar Jha, Ramachandra Guha, S. Irfan Habib, Kapil Kak, Badri Raina, John Dayal, Bharat Bhushan and Sushobha Barve.
The group expressed concern over the “recurrence of violence, student protests and the video war on social media in Kashmir”. “Peace in disturbed areas has never been achieved through more violence or by retributive measures,” said the statement.
It said the worst ever voter turnout of a meagre 7 per cent in Srinagar by-poll was a warning of the extent of disillusionment prevailing in the Kashmiri voter’s mind. “An erosion of faith in democratic processes may eventually threaten the legitimacy of the State itself. This process needs to be stemmed and corrective measures taken,” it added.
Calling for dialogue, the group said: “India’s heart is large enough and its Constitution flexible enough to accommodate the aspirations of all its citizens, the people of Jammu and Kashmir included. For this, the government of J&K and the Central Government need to show exemplary restraint in either deploying force or adopting ‘innovative’ measures.”
It asked the government of India “to carefully fashion a strategy of outreach to the people of Kashmir”. “Such an outreach should include not only leaders of Kashmiri civil society, opinion makers, public intellectuals and other stakeholders in the state but also the separatist leadership as promised in the agenda of alliance between the BJP and the PDP,” it stressed.
The group in the past visited the Kashmir Valley at the peak of the 2016 agitation and held interactions with a number of civil society groups. (CNS)