Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Modi told to learn from Vajpayee's handling of Kashmir crisis in 2003 by reaching Srinagar, offer talks to Pak

Vajpayee in Srinagar in 2003
By Our Representative
Prominent human rights activists, academics and advocates are among 100-odd signatories to a statement telling Prime Minister Narendra Modi to see how his BJP predecessor Atal Behari Vajpayee showed extraordinary “statesmanship” in 2003 when he went to Srinagar during a “particularly dark time” holding out a “hand of friendship” to Pakistan for a dialogue on Kashmir “within the paradigm of humanity.”
The signatories of the statement include well-known Supreme Court lawyers Vrinda Grover and Indira Jaising, top Gandhian academic Dr Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Henri Tiphagne, prominent right to information activist and former Sonai Gandhi aide Aruna Roy, social activists Shabman Hashmi and Madhuresh, and professor emeritum, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Zoya Hasan.
The statement comes even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken direct charge handling the Kasmir crisis, in which more than 30 people have died following clashes with security forces in the wake of protests against the July 8 encounter of Burhan Wani, a young militant of the Hizbul Mujahedin. On a five-day Africa tour, Modi has been under sharp criticism for “beating drums” abroad like a Nero when Kashmir burnt.
Seeking “immediate steps” towards demilitarisation of the Kashmir valley and “an inclusive political initiative”, the statement wants the Government of India to urgently review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), by taking steps to repeal it, saying, the the Government of India should follow the latest Supreme Court ruling calling for cautious use of AFSPA.
Pointing out that “the entire constellation of special security laws that reward atrocities on civilians and encourage impunity” should also be reviewed, the statement says, “nothing has been learnt” from the 2010 crisis, when there was a “familiar pattern” – a killing, a funeral where rage is vented through slogans and stones, and volleys of lethal gunfire in response – leading to the death of 110 persons in four months.
Especially referring to Wani, the statement says, his “life in militancy” indicates that he was “a 16-year old, embittered and radicalised during the 2010 turmoil by the casual humiliations heaped on ordinary Kashmiris by the mass deployments of security personnel.” Wani, the statement adds, “witnessed repeated violent incursions into his home and the harassment of near relations in what are called crackdowns.”
Noting that the “death of his brother in a police encounter, when he had nothing to do with the militancy, is believed to have further hardened his resolve”, the statement says, “Wani’s life story should be cautionary warning that the heavy-handed, militaristic Indian approach to Kashmir, has only led to a quarter century of siege and growing alienation.”
Objecting to the “excessive and indiscriminate lethal force continues to be used” even now, the statement says, “This is in brazen contempt of the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which do not allow for departure even in exceptional circumstances such as internal political instability or public emergency.”
The statement warns, “The upsurge of civil unrest comes after a long sequence of intelligence reports that flagged rising discontent at the new political arrangements in Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP’s arrival in the portals of power and its determined pursuit of a majoritarian agenda, have much to do with this.”

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