Kashmir: Sinha-led group calls for dialogue with the stakeholders

Srinagar: In the meantime, a five-member team led by former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha that visited Kashmir twice during 2016 summer unrest, released its report (January 7). The report said that people believed that the present lull in stone-pelting and street protests will not last for long and people argued that stone-pelting is the result of not allowing any assembly of people. The report further said that “there is a strange apprehension among the Kashmiris that something untoward is going to happen once spring sets in. What happens in the period after April 2017 is expected to be much higher in magnitude and intensity.” Quoting a civil society activist in Shopian in south Kashmir the report said, “What happened in 2008 and 2010 was of moderate intensity. The 2016 events were of a higher magnitude. What happens next will be of a much higher intensity if the Indian state does not take the right steps (to contain the situation). What will happen in 2017 or 2018 will be of catastrophic proportions.”

The report recommended certain measures to be taken at the earliest such as improving human rights situation in Kashmir and encouraging a more humane attitude by the security forces with the public. It emphasized the need to resuscitate democratic linkages between the government and the citizenry (for example all the Commissioners of the J&K State Information Commission have retired and are not yet replaced) and urged for urgent psychological counseling to be provided to minors being released from detentions and allowing assemblies/meetings of people for holding discussions on subjects that concern the common Kashmiris and for free expression of ideas and views and interface between civil society groups and district civil and police officials for confidence building. A multi-dimensional dialogue (as the Agenda of Alliance of the BJP-PDP coalition government commits to a dialogue with all the stakeholders including the Hurriyats) was also stressed to be initiated at the earliest.

Apart from Sinha, other members in the delegation included former Chief Information Commissioner and former Chairman of National Minorities Commission Wajahat Habibullah, former Air Vice Marshal (Retd.) Kapil Kak, veteran journalist Bharat Bhushan and Executive Programme Director of Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR) Sushoba Bharve.

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