National Conference President and former J&K Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah on Friday asked New Delhi to start a dialogue process on Kashmir, on both internal and external fronts, while warning that the region would continue to erupt if not handled politically.
He was talking to media after chairing a meeting of leaders of J&K opposition parties at his Gupkar residence here to review the prevailing situation in Kashmir.
"Since the Prime Minister has accepted the need for a dialogue to find a lasting solution to this political issue, it is imperative that the Centre initiates talks with stakeholders within the State and also resumes a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan to resolve Kashmir," he said.
The senior Abdullah said the PDP-BJP alliance in J&K has in its 'Agenda of the Alliance' promised a dialogue between New Delhi and all stakeholders including the Hurriyat. "They cannot escape their responsibility to initiate the political process. We want to know what has been the progress on this front," he asked.
This was the National Conference President's first interaction with media ever since the anti-India uprising started in Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani by forces on July 8. The region has witnessed 94 civilian killings in forces' action while more than 13000 persons have suffered injuries, including 1000 youth blinded by the pellets, in the past 97 days.
"The situation is alarming; the early the process (of dialogue) is started to resolve Kashmir politically, the better it is for the state and the entire sub-continent," said Farooq. "Aap is chingari ko daba saktay hou lakin buja nahi saktay. Yeh phir se uthay gi agar aap nay masla hal nahi kiya."
Flanked by J&K Congress chief G A Mir, CPI-M leader, Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami, Democratic Party Nationalist President Ghulam Hassan Mir, Peoples Democratic Front Chairman Hakeem Muhammad Yaseen, the senior Abdullah however said for any political process to start, "it is important that all political prisoners including Hurriyat leaders and civilians are released from jails."
"Nowadays they (forces) are entering houses and damaging properties and harassing people. This should be stopped forthwith. The people who have suffered losses in the horticulture sector, which is the mainstay of our economy, should be compensated," he said.
Seeking ban on pellet guns, which have resulted in 14 deaths and injuries to over 7000 persons in the past three months, Farooq demanded a probe by a retired Supreme Court judge into the civilian killings in Kashmir during the ongoing uprising.
Referring to the Government's decision of holding Class 10th and 12th examination from next month, Abdullah said the students were now being "threatened" to sit in the examinations at a time when educational institutions have remained shut in Kashmir for more than three and a half months.
"We appeal to the Government to reconsider the decision (of holding the exams) when the students are not ready to sit in exams. Even in the past, the exams have been delayed."
'WAR NO SOLUTION'
Cautioning both India and Pakistan that war was not an option to solve any issue, he asked the neighboring country to resume the dialogue process that "would lead to final solution to Kashmir."
Demanding that Government should convene a 'Special Assembly Session' to discuss the prevailing situation, Farooq said it would be an opportunity to put forth the view that could possibly lead to restoration of peace.
"I appeal to the Government to think over it," he said.
He said the resignation by legislators or political leaders was not the solution to come out of the prevailing situation in Kashmir. "The solution lies in fighting and finding the way through," he said.
This was for the second time that the opposition parties met to deliberate over the prevailing situation in Kashmir as the government has come under fire for failing to restore normalcy.
Last time, the former Chief Minister and National Conference Working President Omar Abdullah chaired a meeting of leaders of opposition parties here on August 17. Following the meeting, a delegation of the opposition leaders led by Omar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on August 22 and appealed to him to adopt a political approach in dealing with the uprising in Kashmir.
To a question on rallies and marches being carried out by RSS in different districts of Jammu over the past few weeks, Farooq said: "We are not in favor of such things which will divide the communities. India is not one community but a conglomeration of all communities and that has to be respected and protected by the Government of India."
On the debate over implementation of the "uniform civil code", Farooq evaded a direct response. "It is already being debated by the Islamic scholars and it will be debated in the Parliament," he said.
He said the policies of India "should not be determined by assembly elections in one state or the other."
"There are elections every day in this country. If we run the country only with an eye on assembly elections, it will not work," he said. "We have to have sound policies for the future of the nation, not temporary solutions, because we have elections here or we have elections there."
Earlier while addressing the meeting, Congress President G A Mir said the opposition parties should be united in initiating a proactive process of reaching out to people, even as he asked New Delhi to address the simmering situation in Kashmir without further delay.
Tarigami said there is a need for New Delhi-based parties to introspect and understand that status-quo in Kashmir is not a sustainable option. "To think that waiting for an agitation or an unrest to subside is a solution in itself is problematic and a highly dangerous approach. If this agitation ends due to fatigue, it will re-erupt sooner or later because of a new provocation. There is no denying the fact that Kashmir is a political issue and needs a political settlement," Tarigami said.
Hakeem Yaseen said: "If the PDP-BJP alliance had promised that there would be an engagement with Hurriyat leaders, why have they put them in jails or under house arrest? This is a glaring contradiction."
DPN President Mir said it was important for all political parties to find a common ground in finding a lasting solution to the political issue and also in resolving the current crisis in the State. "Unfortunately New Delhi has always shown contempt towards all efforts from political parties and leaders from J&K to seek a resolution of the lingering political issue," Mir said.
ABDULLAH LOSES COOL
Farooq Abdullah lost his cool when a reporter from New Delhi repeatedly sought to know "his views" on Uri attack in which 19 forces personnel were killed in 'fidayeen' attack.
"We are here to find ways and means to douse the fire in Kashmir and you are talking about Uri. I have nothing to say about it," Farooq responded to a question by the reporter.
However when the reporter asked the NC President "does it mean you have no sympathies for the soldiers", he responded: "Why are you trying to put your words into my mouth. We have never said that we can forget their (security forces') sacrifices. Are you their agent? I said I am here to discuss Kashmir and I have nothing to say about Uri attack this time."
At this point, senior legislator MY Tarigami intervened and tried to pacify Farooq.