Prakash Karat, General Secretary of the CPI(M) has issued the following Statement:
I have visited Srinagar along with my colleague and member of the Central Committee of the CPI (M), Mohammad Salim. We have met people from various walks of life and members of the CPI (M) and the CPI to hear their views about the serious situation prevailing in Kashmir.
First of all, let me state how appalled and shocked we are at the deaths of 62 young boys and girls in the past few weeks due to firing by the central para-military and police forces. There can be no justification whatsoever for these needless deaths when the protesting youth were only resorting to throwing stones. The families of all those who died have suffered an irreparable loss. We convey our heartfelt sympathy to all the bereaved families.
There has to be an immediate end to these brutal and inhuman police firings. There has to be a strict no firing policy to face stone throwing crowds. Other measures are to be resorted to in such confrontations.
The state administration should also provide for adequate compensation to those injured in the police actions and rehabilitation measures for those who have permanent disabilities.
In order to help restore normalcy, the administration should release all juveniles who have been detained and lodged in prisons.
We appeal to people, particularly the youth to pursue their protest through peaceful means.
The Central Government should stop treating the problem in Kashmir as a law and order problem which can be resolved through administrative measures. The government should amend Armed Forces Special Powers Act to remove certain draconian provisions. Till then, the Disturbed Areas Act should be withdrawn from Srinagar and Certain other civilian areas given the significant decrease in militant activities. This will make the use of the AFSPA redundant in these areas.
The Prime Minister’s assurance about zero tolerance for human rights violations should be implemented. Action against those guilty in the Pathribal incident and the recent Machil fake encounter case should be taken.
There is urgent need to generate employment for the youth in Kashmir. This must be accompanied by the rehabilitation of the thousands of former militants who need jobs and other assistance.
Given the major economic losses suffered due to the continued curfews and hartals for the past two months, the government has to compensate and revive trade and other economic activities of different sections of the people. Similarly, the disruption of education of the children due to closure of schools and other institutions should also be addressed.
The CPI(M) has been consistently advocating the need for a sustained political dialogue with all sections in the State to eventually reach a political settlement. It is unfortunate that the UPA II government has totally failed to pursue this path.
The way forward is by recognizing the special status of the state and the need to assure the Kashmiri people of their identity. These require a new political framework in which the bedrock is maximum autonomy.
The CPI(M) will discuss in its next Central Committee meeting this issue in depth and come out with a clear-cut position.
In the meantime, the Central Government should pursue the Confidence Building Measures with Pakistan which can widen the canvas of ties and relations across the LOC.
This is the time, all democratic minded persons, organisations and groups should appeal and work for restoration of peace and normalcy so that people can express their views and maintain their rights to protest peacefully. We shall strive to get the Government of India to address the political issues without further delay.