3000 Arrested, Released In Summer Unrest: K Panel23 December 2010
Srinagar: Stating that only 50 among 3050 persons arrested during the five-month unrest in the valley are serving detention, the three-member team of interlocutors Thursday said 15 political prisoners would be released in the coming days. The team, comprising Dilip Padgaonkar, M M Ansari and Radha Kumar, was addressing media persons here at the end of its third visit to the state. “We have been told that 3050 people were arrested among which only 50 are still detained. I am also told that 15 more political prisoners are to be released within the coming days,” Kumar said. “It is disturbing that new arrests are being made, but we are informed that these people were wanted for earlier incidents so there is no question of same people being let out and re-arrested,” she added. ‘Some of Geelani’s demands accepted’ Asked about Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani’s five point proposal, Kumar claimed that some of his recommendations have been accepted by the government. “Release of the youth is an indication of acceptance of one of his demands. As far as his demilitarization demand is concerned more than 30 bunkers have been removed from many parts of the valley,” she said. Reading out some of the team’s recommendations to be submitted to the Home Ministry within a period of ten days, Padgaonkar stressed on the need for urgent efforts to reduce the “trust deficit” between the government and the people. “Serious and urgent efforts have to be undertaken to reduce the trust deficit between the rulers and the ruled. Governance has to be transparent and accountable. Due process of law must be observed to resolve human rights related problems,” the chief interlocutor said. Asserting that peaceful protests should be allowed, Padgaonkar maintained that stone-pelting is a violent form of protest if it results in hurting and injury and loss to the public property. He also called for utmost retraint while dealing with stone throwers. “All peaceful means of protests by which people can give vent to their frustration should be allowed. Stone pelting is violent is it leads to arson and hurting someone. But I should maintain that utmost restraint is needed to deal with the stone pelting,” he added. The team said it is ready to talk to Hurriyat leaders if they show willingness. “The question about if the separatist camp is satisfied with our work can be better answered by them only, but as far as talks with them are concerned our stand is that we are willing, able and ready to meet the Hurriyat leaders if they are willing to meet us,” said Padgaonkar. “A visible difference on the ground in this regard would create a congenial atmosphere to explore various options for a political settlement which is acceptable to all the regions of the state and to all communities within every region,” he said. The settlement, Padgaonkar said, must emerge after a sustained dialogue with all stakeholders including Hurriyat Conference and other allied groups “to ensure that it genuinely reflects the will of the people of the state”. Responding to a query about the engagement with Pakistan and militants, Padgaonkar said the decision in this regard lies with New Delhi. “It lies with the central government and more specifically with the external affairs ministry to decide upon the future engagement with Pakistan. But as of now all I know is that there will be a process of dialogue with Pakistan where Kashmir will also be discussed,” he said. As far as holding talks with militants is concerned, he said, there cannot be a dialogue process till there is violence, which applies to both the sides. “You cannot hold talks while holding a gun on someone’s head. In this regard we made some efforts and met some groups of militants twice in the jails since we started our process,” Padgaonkar said. About the implementation of the recommendations made by the interlocutors after their last visit to the state, he said, “There were many recommendations. Some of the recommendations are to be implemented by the central government while as most of them fall in the ambit of State government to act upon.” Any announcement regarding the implementation, he added, will have to be made by the state and central government. Regarding difference of opinion in different regions, Padgaonkar said, “The concerns and voices differ in every region we visited. Some people who met us ask for the abrogation of Article 370 and we met people at the other end of the spectrum who ask for Azadi.” “The opinions have been gathered and after that certain suggestions will be made which might form the basis of a political settlement,” he said. He said the interlocutors have stressed upon the government that CBMs and developmental works should not affect the process of political solution for Kashmir and that political settlement efforts must not impede upon the development works. “Many baby steps are to be taken before taking the giant step of political solution for Kashmir issue,” he added.