DISPEL THE perception that Kashmir and Kashmiris are “mere tools to be used for electoral purposes”, a group led by former Union minister Yashwant Sinha has recommended in a report days after visiting the trouble-torn Valley.
“Kashmiris believe that today Indian politics has taken such a turn that there is no willingness to listen to even demands for autonomy. Today, (the) Kashmir issue is being seen as Hindu versus Muslim, and governance seen as Jammu versus Kashmir,” the group said in a six-page report, submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday.
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Dealing at length on reasons for the immediate and long-time anger among the people in the Valley, which has come to a boil again following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8, the group said that among reasons for the immediate anger cited by the stakeholders in the Valley are excessive use of force by security forces during Wani’s funeral procession, and the use of pellet guns thereafter.
According to the report, the Kashmiris pointed out that pellet guns are “not used in the rest of India even under grave provocation like the Jat agitation in Haryana, the protests against Cauvery water sharing in Karnataka, or the Patel agitation in Gujarat”.
It noted, “The fact that the use of pellet guns was reserved only for Kashmir elicited the most amount of anger against India and Indian security forces in the people we talked to.”
The report by the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation is based on the visit by concerned citizens “not sponsored by anyone” between October 25 and 27.
A copy of the report has been sent to J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti, and the group has asked the PDP-BJP government in the state to start the process of reopening schools and, as a precursor to this, release all first-time offenders, schoolchildren and minors arrested under the Public Safety Act.