Resume Dialogue With Kashmiris, Pakistan: Karat Tells Govt23 August 2010
The Hindustan Times
Srinagar: Describing situation in J-K “extremely serious”, CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat on Monday asked the Central government “to resume dialogue with Kashmiri leadership and Pakistan without any preconditions”. “We are appalled and shocked by the situation in Kashmir where 62 young boys and girls have died. There has to be immediate end to brutal and inhuman police firings and need to have a no-firing policy to face stone throwing crowds. Firing at protesters with stones is something not to be condoned by democracy like India,” said Karat at a press conference in Srinagar. Karat, who is on a two-day visit to J-K along with another senior party leader Muhammad Saleem, is first national-level leader to visit Kashmir that is witnessing civil unrest since June 11 after a boy was killed in a police firing. The Leftist leader asked New Delhi to talk to Pakistan and discuss all issues and also start open ended talks with all shades of opinion in J-K. “The way forward is by recognizing the special status of J-K and the need to assure the Kashmiri people of their identity. These require a new political framework in which the bedrock is maximum autonomy,” said Karat, who donated Rs 5 lakh for treatment of victims of violence. Terming the Union government’s previous dialogue initiative viz-a-viz Kashmir as “defective”, Karat said even the phrase of “solution within the Indian constitution” should not be a condition. “We believe the question of Kashmir should be treated separately as a special case and not dealt within a normal conventional manner. Unfortunately, the United Progressive Alliance government do not have the conception on how to take the dialogue forward,” said Karat. He asked New Delhi to pursue the Confidence Building Measure (CBM) with Pakistan to widen the canvas of tires and relations across the Line of Control. The CPI (M) in its next central committee meeting will discuss Kashmir situation. “We will come out with a clear position and approach in the meeting,” said Karat. The party plans to create a consensus on Kashmir across the country. Karat said till “draconian provisions” of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) are amended, the Disturbed Area Act should be withdrawn from Srinagar and other civilian populated areas in J-K. “This will make AFSPA redundant in these areas,” said Karat. He urged the state government to release all juveniles. “Boys as young as 15 are jailed despite the fact there is no separate facility for juveniles and pertaining laws are defunct in J-K,” said Karat while asking people to resort to peaceful protests. Karat said he disagrees with Home Minister P.Chidambaram’s observation that protests are engineered in Kashmir. “Protests are spontaneous,” said Karat.