November 2016 News

Yashwant Sinha-led Team Submits Report On Kashmir Unrest

8 November 2016
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar: A five-member Delhi group, headed by former Union minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday submitted its report to Union Home Ministry in Delhi on their recent visit to troubled Jammu and Kashmir. The group had visited Srinagar from October 25-27 and met senior separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Geelani, Yasin Malik, and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Reiterating that the group's initiative was not 'a sponsored one,' the report said, 'Across the political spectrum, the Kashmiris we met spoke to virtually the same script about the history of the Kashmir issue. They may have varied in the exposition of a particular issue but basically all of them argued for a political solution to what they perceived as a political issue. They made the point that this is the fifth generation of Kashmiris which was protesting but to no avail.' It underlined that there was also anger due to 'excessive use of force by the security forces'. 'The violence which began with the funeral procession of slain militant Burhan Wani has so far resulted in the death of nearly a hundred people. The question that most Kashmiris are asking is: Why were unarmed people going to offer last prayers for Burhan Wani fired at?' it said. The report findings also highlighted that the business and trading community in Kashmir Valley 'was not bothered about profit and loss but human loss and about the worsening situation in the Valley.' It said use of pellet guns for crowd control was the sorest point of all conversation with Kashmiris. 'They want the pellet guns banned and cannot understand why Government of India is delaying this decision and why Indian security establishment is reluctant to give up this weapon,' it added. The group was also shared that people alleged that search operations were resulting in destruction of property at Kashmir homes . 'Apparently electrical and electronic gadgets are destroyed in the name of search operations. This continues even when the search operation yields nothing,' the report said. It also underlined public grievances about 'abuse of Public Safety Act (PSA)', destruction of electric transformers by security forces and harassment of people outside the valley. In the long term, the report said people stressed 'refusal to recognise Kashmir as a politically contentious issue.' 'Across the cross section of people we met there was anguish about India not recognizing that Kashmir was a dispute. The refusal to see Kashmir as a political issue, people claimed, had resulted in the present situation because a political issue cannot be solved through law and order measures,' it said. The report also highlighted that Kashmiri separatist leaders think 'unless India and Pakistan talk there can be no permanent solution to the Kashmir issue'. 'Most Kashmiris believe that Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sincere in his approach to resolving the Kashmir tangle,' it said. The report pointed out that people think 'Indian public was indifferent to the plight of Kashmiris.' Suggestions The report recommended to start the process of reopening schools and as a precursor to this, release forthwith all first time offender schoolchildren and minors arrested under PSA. It suggested considering postponement of school examinations to a later date instead of insisting on holding them from November 15, compensation to kin of the civilians killed and those wounded, rehabilitation packages for those permanently blinded by pellet guns and set up of a blind school in Srinagar for children blinded by pellet guns. It called for a judicial commission into excesses by the police, especially the use of pellet guns.