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“Win hearts of people” in Kashmir, Azad tells PM Modi

Statesman News Service |

Opposition Congress on Saturday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "win the hearts" of the people of Kashmir, where the situation is turning "too dangerous".

"I would request your kind indulgence for taking urgent steps to win the hearts of the people of the state and also ensure that the law and order situation is restored at the earliest," Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said in an open letter to the Prime Minister.

Azad, the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, regretted that there was no recognition of the Kashmir situation at national level.

Making a pitch for "political process" to find a solution to the problem, he reminded the Prime Minister that even in the face of worst provocations past governments had never abandoned it both on external and internal fronts.

"The initiative taken by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that Kashmir problem can be solved within the ambit of ‘insaniyat’, Jamhuriyat’ and Kashmiriyat" followed by Delhi-Lahore bus service, was appreciated by one and all," Azad said.

Similarly, the UPA government under Manmohan Singh took some bold confidence building measures to win the hearts of the people of the state by starting a bus service between Uri and Muzafarabad, and Poonch and Rawalkote.

"But, unfortunately no such initiative is forthcoming from the present NDA Government under your leadership," he said.

"Neither is the government showing any urgency to deal with the situation nor is it taking other national political parties into confidence as was demanded during the discussion in the Parliament," he said.

Azad termed as "unfortunate" the government having "forgotten or ignored" lessons from 2008 and 2010 agitations when the then governments had appreciated the political nature of the problem and at least initiated a political process by sending an All-Party Parliament delegation.

He said in 2010 an-all party delegation vsited Kashmir and met a cross-section of people. Subsequently, the interlocutors were appointed. They carried out wide ranging discussions as a result of which the anger and resentment subsided.

"Today there seems no such effort on the part of the Central Government. What is New Delhi waiting for? When is Government of India going to wake up? The use of pellet guns is not a solution at all," he said.

Azad said there is a complete breakdown of law and order and "today even elected representatives are also facing the ire and are not able to connect with the people. They are running away from scene which tells us about the reality on the ground."

He said the "silence" of the Centre has further compounded the problem and asked the government to change its attitude towards Jammu and Kashmir.

"The Prime Minister should open his heart to the people of the state," he said and added that the present "mishandling" of the situation and "wrong policies" of the Centre has disturbed the socio-political and economic scenario of the state.

"The unrest has travelled to places not seen even in worst times," he added.

Azad assured the government that as a responsible opposition, Congress will support any endeavour to restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir. "But it is the central and state government which have to reach out to the people and create a sense of security in Kashmir".

"As a responsible member of Parliament from J-K, I feel this as my duty to inform you that the situation in the state is turning too dangerous as a result of which, a large population is feeling insecure", he said.

He reminded the Prime Minister that Kashmir has been locked down for one month now. Curfew is in for the last 29 days and communciation blockade is near complete. "So far more than 55 people have been killed and almost 7,000 civilians and security personnel injured".

Noting that more than 100 civilians have lost their vision as a result of pellet guns, Azad told the Prime Minister that today there is complete breakdown of law and order in the valley.