NEW DELHI: In what could be the first step towards finding a political solution to the Kashmir unrest, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met a delegation of Jammu & Kashmir Opposition leaders who impressed upon the Centre to start dialogue with all stakeholders and ban the use of pellet guns.
The Prime Minister, according to the delegation, agreed to initiate a dialogue for finding a solution to the crisis. Not only did he express “serious concern” and “distress” over the loss of lives who were “part of us, our nation” but he also assured the delegation that a dialogue would be initiated soon. “We have to find permanent and lasting solution to the problem, within the framework of the Constitution….But the parties have to reach out to the people to convince them, above party lines,’’ the Prime Minister said, while asking the members of the delegation to carry the message of his “deep concern’’ over the deaths of “our own people’’.In their memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister, the Opposition leaders said that “continued failure to address the unrest in Kashmir will further deepen the sense of alienation”. The tried and tested formulation of dealing with the issue administratively rather than politically “has further exacerbated the situation’’ and created an “unprecedented sense of disaffection and disenchantment-especially among the youth’’, the memorandum noted. The Centre should “waste no further time in initiating a credible and meaningful political dialogue”, the leaders said.
“The Prime Minister did agree that development isn’t the only way and that administrative measures alone cannot bring normalcy,’’ said state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir . Former chief minister Omar Abdullah too said the Prime Minister “acknowledged’’ that development alone couldn’t bring the state out of the current crisis. “We stressed on the fact that the issue in Jammu and Kashmir is a political issue. If we don’t find a political solution to this, then every time we’ll repeat the same mistakes,’’ he said.
Omar also said the delegation had told Modi that the Centre needed to “appear sympathetic, keep an open mind to understand the problem that has led to the current situation in the state and find a right and lasting solution.’’
The delegation included eight members of the National Conference, seven-members of the Congress and CPM MLA M Y Tarigami and independent MLAs.