All party delegation meets different shades of opinion20 September 2010
The Daily Excelsior
SRINAGAR: The mainstream political parties today reiterated their known stands on Kashmir issue before the all party delegation led by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram with ruling National Conference demanding restoration of autonomy, Congress calling for a qualitatively different response, opposition PDP seeking an out of the box solution and BJP describing Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of the country. Chidambaram initiated the proceedings of the delegation by stating that the lives and honour of people of Jammu and Kashmir was safe with India. Ruling National Conference was the first of the dozens of delegation of mainstream political parties, trade groups and civil society members to present their point of view before the powerful team of Central leaders which included among other BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, Communist leaders Sitaram Yechuri, Gurudas Dasgupta, LJP president Ramvilas Paswan and members from other parties. Terming the all-party initiative as a good beginning, National Conference said it has suggested restoration of autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir as the best solution to resolve the long-pending Kashmir issue. 'We have proposed autonomy (restoration of autonomy) as the solution to the Kashmir issue. It is nothing new as it is contained in the instrument of accession,' senior NC leader Abdul Rahim Rather told reporters after meeting the all-party delegation. He said the NC made it clear to the delegation that under the instrument of accession, the division between the Centre and the State were clearly demarcated with all the powers of the legislation resting with the State other than those concerning Defence, External Affairs and Communication. Rather said over the years the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir was 'eroded unconstitutionally' which the NC believes was the reason for the Kashmir discontent, which began with the arrest of NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1952. In a reference to BJPís demand for abrogation of Article 370, he said, 'Those making this demand are living in a foolís paradise. Only constituent Assembly of J&K, which submitted its report in 1956, could have done that.' Rather said that the NC reminded the delegation about the promises made to the people of J&K with regard to restoration of autonomy. 'We won the elections in 1996 in all three regions of the State on the autonomy plank. A resolution was passed by the Assembly in July 2000 but it was rejected by the then NDA Government without reading it. He said the National Conference would support any other solution to the Kashmir issue if it was acceptable to the people of the State and called for a sustained dialogue to discuss all suggestions in this regard. He said that the party also reiterated its demand to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (APSPA) from the Valley. Asking the all-party team to reach out to the civil society, Jammu and Kashmir Congress Committee said the delegation should cross the line with a qualitatively different response to the prevailing situation in the State. 'We told the delegation that the response has to be qualitatively different. They will have to cross the line and reach out to the civil society in Kashmir,' JKPCC president Saifuddin Soz told reporters here after meeting the delegation. He said the Congress impressed upon the delegation that civil liberties of people in the State should be restored in full measure and with dignity. Asserting dialogue was the only way forward, he said the Congress will vigourously facilitate such a process for arriving at a consensus among the three regions of the State. 'Integrity of the State is very important as any move against it will be detrimental to all the people of India,' Soz said, apparently referring to demands in some quarters for trifurcation of the State. He said the present crisis had thrown up an opportunity for the national polity which has come here in the form of a delegation and the political parties in the State for resolving the issue. Minister for Tourism and Culture, Nawang Rigzin Jora, who was part of Congress delegation requested all parties delegation to visit Ladakh as well to ascertain the wishes and aspirations of people of the region. 'J&K comprises of three regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and each with its own ethno-cultural distinctiveness and individuality and people of all the three regions have different wishes, aspirations and outlook as such whatever solution that is worked out for the State must be done after consultation with the representatives of all the three regions', he said. 'In case this is not done and a Kashmir centric solution is worked out, it may douse the flame in Kashmir only but will definitely end up in inflaming regions of Jammu and Ladakh', Mr Jora said The opposition PDP asked the delegation to come out of the fixation and consider 'out of box solutions' for resolving the Kashmir issue. 'Although we were given just 15 minutes to put our point, we have told the delegation that they have to come out of the fixation and come up with out of the box solutions to resolve the Kashmir issue. All suggestions from the mainstream or separatist quarters should be considered,' PDP leader Nizamuddin Bhatt told reporters after meeting the team. He said the all-party delegation should have visited the affected areas, including the hospital and district headquarters, to get a first-hand account of the sufferings of the people. Bhatt said the present crisis has been a simple outcome of two factors which need to be addressed - the long pending Kashmir dispute and immediate 'mishandling' of the situating by the State Government. He said the party has reiterated its demand for taking steps that will make the situating conducive for starting a process of resolution, which included revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and removing the 'gag on freedom of expression'. The Centre will have to take steps for 'wriggling the people of the Valley from the siege and stop the killing so that they feel that they are living in a truly democratic system', he further said. Demanding resignation of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, the delegation of BJP led by State vice-presidents, Chander Parkash Ganga and Sofi Mohd Yousaf strongly opposed any move to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act but demanded jobs on compassionate grounds for the kin of those killed in the ongoing unrest in the Valley. 'The present crisis in the State which has now entered fourth month is because the State Government has totally failed. Omar Abdullah should resign,' State vice president of BJP Sofi Mohammad Yousuf told reporters after meeting the all party delegation here. He said 61 per cent of the people had voted in the 2008 Assembly elections, which brought Omar to power and people had a lot of expectations of him. 'However, he has let them down as the youth are back on the roads pelting stones,' Yousuf said. He said BJP opposed any dilution or revocation of AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir as it is necessary till cross-border terrorism continued. 'Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and Army is needed in the State to make every citizen feel secure,' the BJP leader said. In the memorandum submitted to the delegation, the BJP said, 'the present crisis in parts of the Valley has been used by some Valley politicians to ask for autonomy. We completely reject this. We believe that the time has come for an open debate on Article 370 on what its impact has been on the people of the State'. Terming Pakistan as the real culprit playing from behind the scene, the BJP demanded that Central Government should be firm in dealing with the neighbouring country. 'Time has come to implement 1994 unanimous resolution of Parliament and get PoK vacated by all means', the party demanded. State Secretary of CPI(M) M Y Tarigami asserted that the present crisis in the Valley was not a law and order problem or temporary eruption but a reflection of deep rooted alienation among the people which needs to be addressed through a political initiative supported by an unconditional dialogue. 'The situation in Kashmir is political. It is not law and order problem or temporary eruption. It reflects the deep rooted alienation of the people due to unfulfilled promises,' he told reporters. Describing the situation in Kashmir as 'very serious', Tarigami said any casual or adhoc approach to put the problem on the backburner will only precipitate the crisis further. Tarigami insisted that the delegation should meet the separatist leaders like Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik who have decided not to meet the Central leaders. 'It should not be a matter of ego. If not all, those members who want to meet the separatists should knock at their doors to send a message that the Indian Parliament is willing to start a dialogue for resolving the issue,' he said. While appreciating the visit of the delegation, Tarigami said it would have been better if the leaders would also visit the victims of the present crisis in the hospitals to send a message to people of Kashmir that the nation cares. 'We donít want Kashmiris to feel that the delegation came and returned a failure. They should also not be like a traditional delegation which does nothing after going back,' he said adding 'the Centre leaders should inform the nation about the ground situation in Kashmir.' Democratic Nationalist Party led by its president, Ghulam Hassan Mir met the delegation and presented view points. The other members included G. M. Wani, G. M. Bawan, Nazir Ahmad Wani and Muzaffar Rishi. The PDF led by its president, Hakim Mohammad Yasin also met the APD. The other members of the party included Sona-ullah Dar, Mohammad Abdullah Wani, Ishtyaq Qadri, Abdul Qayoom Mir and Mushtaq Ahmad Shafi. An Independent MLA from Langate Er. Abdul Rashid also presents his view point before the delegation. During the afternoon session, various deputations comprising Trade, Industry, Travel, Tour, Tourism, Transport, Apple Growers Organization, Non-Government Organizations, University Students, Vice Chancellors of various Universities and across section of people representing different shades of opinion also called on the APD. These include Federation of Commerce and Industry, Kashmir (FCIK), led by Shakeel Qalander, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), led by Nazir Ahmad Dar, Tourism Alliance and Kashmir Tourist Taxi Operators Federation Travel Agents Association of India and Kashmir Tourist Traders Federation, Kashmir Economic Alliance- a shadow group of both traders and transporters led by Siraj Ahmad. Besides, four NGOs including JK Voluntary Health Association, Rahat Ghar, Rural Development Society, Common Cause Trust, Kashmir Society and Kashmir Centric for Social and Development Studies also met the delegation.A five member group of students from Kashmir University also interacted with the Central delegation. Representatives of Sikh community under the umbrella of Kashmir Sikh Sangat also met the All Party Delegation. A deputation of Teacherís Representatives, Sikh delegation of J&K Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), delegation from Kargil and prominent citizens also met the APD and placed their view point on the subject. The deputations of Gujjar and Bakerwal and Awami National Conference met the APD. The delegates included Union Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare, Dinesh Trivedi, leader in Rajya Sabha, Govind Rao Adik, leader DMK in Lok Sabha, T R Baaki, leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, Member Parliament Lok Sabha, Dr. Prassna Kumar Patasani, Dr Mohan Singh, Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha, Narindera Kumar Kashyap, KC Tyagi, leader of (AIDMK) in Lok Sabha, Thambidurai, leader TDP, Nams Naqeshwara Rao, M.P Lok Sabha, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, leader of Shiv Sena in Lok Sabha, Anant G. Geeta, leader of CPI (M) in Lok Sabha, Vasudev Achariya, leader CPI in Lok Sabha, Gurudas Das Gupta, leader of AIFB in Lok Sabha, Narahari Mehto, M.P Lok Sabha, Prashant Kumar Mazumdar, Ex. MP Lok Sabha, Sahid Sadiqqi, MP Rajya Sabha, Rajniti Prasad, leader of BPF in Lok Sabha, S. K. Bwiewnuthiary, MP Rajya Sabha and president, LJSP, Ram Vilas Paswan. Leader of NC in Lok Sabha, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, Bindu Kumar, Shetti Raju Allas Devappa (ANNS), leader MLKSC in Lok Sabha, E. Ahmad, leader of JMM in Lok Sabha, Shibu Soren, leader of AIMM in Lok Sabha, Asaduddin owasisil, leader of Kerala Congress, Jcoo K. Manl, leader of JBM in Lok Sabha, Babu Lal Marandi, leader of VCK in Lok Sabha, Thirumanvelavan Thei, leader of Balujan, Balak Ram Sukur Jadhav, MP Lok Sabha, Joseph Toppo, MP Lok Sabha, C.M. Chang, MP Rajya Sabha and O. T. Lepcha.