Won’t engage Pak on Kashmir, Rajnath hints

Appealing people to help restore normalcy in Kashmir, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said “differences” can be resolved only through dialogue, even as he warned Pakistan “not to meddle in India’s internal matters.
Won’t engage Pak on Kashmir, Rajnath hints
Photo: Habib Naqash/GK

Appealing people to help restore normalcy in Kashmir, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday said "differences" can be resolved only through dialogue, even as he warned Pakistan "not to meddle in India's internal matters."

The Home Minister said New Delhi wanted to have an "emotional relationship" with Kashmir, saying Government of India was ready to talk to "whosever needed once the situation normalizes in the Valley."

At least 50 civilians have been killed in Kashmir in forces' action during the past 16 days after protests broke out across the Valley over the killing of Hizbul Mujahedeen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani on July 8.

'HELP RESTORE PEACE'

Winding up his two-day Kashmir tour, Singh, who addressed a press conference at technical airport here, said: "I appeal people and youth to help in restoring peace and normalcy in Kashmir."

He said he met more than 30 delegations since yesterday and went to Anantnag (Islamabad) which has been the epicenter of the protests to take stock of the situation.

 "There too, I appealed people to help us restore normalcy…I want to make it clear that Government of India doesn't want need-based connect but emotional relationship with Kashmir," he said.

For restoring peace in the Valley, he said, the Government was ready to take "constructive suggestions" from people.

"Let them (people) come up with their constructive suggestions, we will accept them," he said. "I am very much concerned about the situation in Kashmir. The Prime Minister too is concerned."

'READY TO TALK'

To a question whether Government of India would engage Kashmir's separatist leadership, Singh said New Delhi was "ready to talk to whosoever is needed but only after the situation normalizes."

 "Let normalcy and peace in Kashmir be restored first. We will talk to the Chief Minister (Mehbooba Mufti) and we will work only after taking her into confidence. Let us first ensure that normalcy returns. Then, we will talk to whoever we want to," he said. "Whatever has to be done will be done only after talking to the State government."

Singh however said any "difference of opinion" can be resolved through dialogue only.

 "There can be no other solution," he said while stating that "problems" cannot be solved in a short of span of time.

"Problems cannot be solved in 15 days or one month. It will take time. If there are any differences or disapprovals, they can be resolved through talks mutually. I feel that if there is place of Kashmiriyat in democracy, it will only be of humanity," Singh said

SLAMS PAKISTAN

Stating there was no need to engage Pakistan on Kashmir, the Home Minister said the neighboring country should "change its attitude and approach" towards Kashmir.

"Its (Pakistan) role has not been 'paak' (pure) on Kashmir. Pakistan should change its approach towards Kashmir," he said.

He said Pakistan was itself "affected by militancy and to end it, it is killing terrorists after entering Lal Masjid, while it is asking our youth in Kashmir to take to arms".

"This must stop," he said.

At the same, he insisted, there was no need to involve "a third power" in Jammu and Kashmir.

To a question whether he rules out engaging Pakistan on Kashmir, Singh said:  "Whatever I have said, write it."

ON PELLET GUNS

Singh said he has asked the security forces to "refrain from using pellet guns as much as possible" while he asked the youth to stop pelting stones on the forces.

Singh reiterated that the Government of India would set up a team of experts to find other options on non-lethal weapons.

 "The committee will submit its report in two months," he said as he expressed sympathies with those who have been injured in forces' action.

He said 2259 civilians have got injured in the past 16 days apart from 2228 policemen and 1100 CRPF personnel. But he didn't make any mention of civilian deaths in police and CRPF action in Kashmir.

He said New Delhi has conveyed to the Chief Minister that if need be, the injured Kashmiris could be sent to Delhi.  

"If the injured can't be treated here, Government of India will take them to New Delhi for special treatment in AIIMS. We will ensure treatment to all children," he said, adding: "The Union Health Minister would keep a nodal official for ensuring treatment to injured persons in Delhi."

He said six injured persons were already undergoing treatment at the AIIMS.    

For "engaging" Kashmir youth, he said, the Government had already started a recruitment drive.

"The Chief Minister has been very particular about it. The recruitment process will be started again and the Government of India will help the State government to fulfill all decisions which the Chief Minister is in know-how of," said Singh, expressing condolences to the families who lost their kin in forces' action.

To a question whether he would apologize to families whose kin were killed by forces in the past 16 days, Singh said it was "unfortunate".

"Can there be anything more than expressing regret (over the killings)," he responded to the related question.

On the demand for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Singh said: "Things will be acted upon only after taking State Government into confidence."

ON USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE

Responding to a separate question whether the Government would hold the forces personnel accountable for using "excessive force" which resulted in 50 killings and injuries to over 4000 people including minors, Singh said: "Whatever happened was "unfortunate"

 "But we shouldn't forget the reality that when Kashmir was under flood (in 2014), these security forces put their lives at risk to save civilians," he said.

He said the Government would have a look at the report that was submitted by three member panel of interlocutors after the 2010 unrest in Kashmir in which 120 people had got killed.

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