People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXIII

No. 26

June 28, 2009

JAMMU & KASHMIR

 

Tackling Kashmir Issue Needs a Multipronged Approach

 

Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami spoke to G Mamatha of the Peopleís Democracy after meeting  the prime minister on June 22, 2009. The following are the excerpts from the talk.

IN his first meeting with the prime minister after the 15th Lok Sabha elections, M Y Tarigami exchanged views on the present situation in Jammu and Kashmir. He suggested to the prime minister that with the change in the situation and large turnout of people in the assembly and parliament elections, there is an opportunity for taking bold initiatives.

A strong message of seriousness and sincerity has to be sent to the people of Kashmir who feel disillusioned as the promises made to them were never implemented. The changed scenario demands that certain confidence building measures are taken and a meaningful and result oriented dialogue is initiated with all shades of opinion including those outside the democratic framework. Frequent arrests and detentions of political leaders must be stopped. We believe that democratic rights and civil liberties must be protected at every level.

A vicious cycle of terror and counter terror has been going on for the last two decades in the state. It has taken a huge toll of human lives and has resulted in the destruction of property in a big way. This cycle has to be put an end to. Time has come to reduce the size of disproportionate presence of security forces without further delay. Civilian properties occupied by the security forces and the army need to be vacated, forthwith, as the level of violence has come down considerably.

The prime minister had, a few years ago, constituted an eight-member committee consisting, among others, of officials from the centre and state and from security forces, on the question of troop withdrawal or gradual reduction of forces. Nothing was heard of this committee, thereafter.

To restore peace in the state and protect human life and dignity, the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) must be withdrawn from Jammu and Kashmir. As the atmosphere is progressively becoming conducive for such an initiative, the situation calls for such steps to infuse confidence.

Tarigami recalled that the Justice B P Jeevan Reddy Commission was constituted to study and report to the government of India about the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958. In its report in 2005, the commission had proposed the repeal of the act. The prime ministerís working group, headed by none other than current vice president Hamid Ansari, had also asked for annulment of this law. But the government of India, especially the mome ministry, did nothing to concede to the demand. The second Administrative Reforms Commission, headed by the present law minister Verappa Moily, also recommended the repeal of the act.

Despite the fact that the people are disillusioned with the ongoing violence, the level of their alienation has not come down. It is unrealistic to think of permanent peace in the state unless measures are taken to settle the political issues. There is no readymade solution to such a vexed problem as Kashmir but, whatever the solution, it has to come out through a process of dialogue with Pakistan as well as a dialogue with all shades of opinion in the state --- a dialogue which must be result oriented and time bound. Time has come to give up reliance on administrative measures and open some genuine political channels.

Unfortunate incidents of gross human rights violations have to be stopped and incidents like Shopian, where two women were raped and killed, have to be investigated thoroughly, and the culprits identified and punished.

Confidence in institutions has no doubt come down. Measures are required to improve the confidence and make the functioning of the institutions transparent and accountable, in order to overcome this situation.

Kashmir being a complex problem and a real national concern, the prime minister must take initiatives to build a consensus. Keeping in view the sensitiveness of the issue, this cannot be left to one political party. No attempt must be made to use it in narrow partisan interests.

Tarigami suggested the following measures to the government of India on the Kashmir issue:

1) The process of dialogue has to be initiated with all the stake holders in the state. For that, an environment of confidence has to be created.

2) There must be reduction in the size and strength of the troops deployed for internal security in the state, without further delay.

3) There must be immediate withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958.

4) The government must constitute an independent agency to investigate and prosecute the cases of human rights violations committed by the law enforcing agencies.

5) There must be implementation of the recommendations made by the working groups, without any further delay.