Karat: Start Political Talks In J&K Without Preconditions4 September 2010
New Delhi: Suggesting the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government take a bold initiative and start political dialogue with all sections in Jammu and Kashmir, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) said the process should be held with all sides without preconditions. Party general secretary Prakash Karat, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday, said the party felt that a solution could be found only by recognising the special status of the State and assuring the Kashmiri people of their identity. ‘New political framework' “This is the time to take a bold initiative for a political dialogue with all sections in the State. Only you can initiate such a process by announcing that a dialogue can be held with all sides without preconditions…This requires a new political framework in which the bedrock is maximum autonomy,” Mr. Karat said in his letter to Dr. Singh. Mr. Karat told The Hindu that he requested the Prime Minister to accord top priority to tackling the extremely serious situation in Kashmir, where the mass of people were deeply alienated from the Indian State. ‘Stop police firing' Having spent two days in Srinagar last month meeting people to assess the situation, he said, considering that 66 young men and women lost their lives, police firing as a method to control the stone-pelting crowds should stop immediately and use other measure to counter the situation. “Unfortunately, no distinction is being made between tackling the stone-throwing youth and the tactics adopted to fight the extremists resorting to terrorist violence,” the letter said. He said a large number of injured were still in hospital and all these people should be adequately compensated and rehabilitation measures should be taken for those with permanent disabilities. Juvenile prisoners should not be kept in jail and all those youth who have no serious charges against them should be released in order to restore normality. Disturbed Areas Act Srinagar and other urban centres should be taken out of the Disturbed Areas Act purview, which would make the enforcement of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act redundant. He cited Manipur as an example when the Imphal region was exempted from the Act. Mr. Karat also suggested reduction in the security forces from areas which have seen drastic reduction in militancy and removal of many of the bunkers manned by paramilitary forces set up at the height of the militancy in 1990s. Given the major economic losses suffered due to the continued curfews and hartals for the past two and a half months, the government should compensate and revive trade and other economic activities of different sections of the people. Steps should also be taken to address the disruption of education of children due to closure of schools and other institutions.