Friday, 25 May 2012
Is This Kashmir’s Road Map for Peace?
Is This Kashmir’s Road Map for Peace? By HARI KUMAR and NIKHILA GILL May 24, 2012, 12:56 PM In the summer of 2010, the Kashmir valley in Indian-controlled Kashmir erupted with protests after a school boy was killed under controversial circumstances. Locals alleged that the boy was shot dead by the police. The police in the region frequently fired upon protesting youths who threw stones, killing about 120 young boys that year alone. In an attempt to calm the region, a parliamentary delegation visited the Kashmir valley, held discussions with locals and appealed to them to stop protesting. The former Times of India editor Dileep Padgaonkar, the academic Radha Kumar and the retired bureaucrat M. M. Ansari were tasked with the mammoth job of holding wide-ranging consultations with all sections of the population in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and sketching out a regional road map for peace. The Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella organization of separatist groups, refused to meet with the group. After meeting 700 other delegations and some 6,000 people, the three delivered their recommendations in a 176-page report on Thursday. Key findings include: 1. There is a deep sense of victimhood in the Kashmir valley. People want to lead a life of dignity and honor. 2. People want freedom from all forces of religious extremism, unaccountable administration, harsh laws, judicial delays, intimidation and violence. 3. A political settlement in Jammu and Kashmir can be achieved only through dialogue between all stakeholders. 4. Jammu and Kashmir should continue to function as a single entity within the Indian Union. 5. The state’s distinctive status guaranteed by Article 370, which gives its citizens and government special rights, must be upheld. Except a few strategic departments like defense, finance, communications and foreign affairs, the central government needs the state government’s assent to pass laws in the state. Residents of other states cannot buy land there. 6. All the central government acts and articles of the constitution related specifically to the state should be reviewed by a Constitutional Committee. 7. To promote reintegration with the rest of the country, there should be a dialogue between Indian-controlled Kashmir and surrounding Indian areas and an exchange program of artists, students and intellectuals. Tourism across the Line of Control, which divides Indian-controlled Kashmir from Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, should be encouraged. 8. The state should create special economic zones to encourage investment, should provide export incentives for handicraft s and horticulture, and should complete pending rail and road projects. 9. Jailed stone throwers and political prisoners should be released, and the government should facilitate the return of Kashmiri youths stranded across the Line of Control. A judicial commission should be appointed to look into the unmarked graves discovered last year in the area, which hold thousands of bodies. 10. The government should facilitate the return of Kashmiri Pandits, Hindus from the area who fled decades ago under threat of violence, and of groups who migrated from Jammu and Kargil. 11. Dialogue between the Indian government and Hurriyat Conference, aimed at should be resumed as early as possible, and independently of talks between India and Pakistan. 12. The government should promote interaction between civilians in both India- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir. The report was immediately rejected by some leaders. Mr. Yasin Malik, a separatist leader and chairman of Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, said in an interview he had been “proved right in not meeting” with the report’s authors. “The report proved their intellectual bankruptcy. They are trying to divide Jammu & Kashmir on ethnic and Communal lines,” he said. Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said on Twitter he would “take a few days to examine the report, discuss it with senior colleagues and then react.” https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#inbox/1377fd067c90f893