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Omar-led delegation meets PM for political solution in Kashmir

Opposition parties from J&K at South Block

New Delhi : Opposition parties from Jammu and Kashmir led by Omar Abdullah today called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and appealed that a political approach needs to be adopted for resolving the present crisis in the Valley and to ensure that the “mistakes” of the past are not repeated.

Emerging after a 75-minute-long meeting, Omar, former Chief Minister of the state, told reporters that the Prime Minister listened to “us with patience and accepted our memorandum”.

The 46-year-old Working President of National Conference said they requested the Prime Minister for finding a political solution to the Kashmir issue so that a lasting peace is ensured in the state as well as the country.

“We talked about the same thing that we have been talking with other leaders ever since we arrived in Delhi that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, especially in light of the present crisis, needs to be understood correctly after which a solution is required.

“We emphasised that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir is more of political in nature. Time and again such situations do arise but if we are unable to find a political solution to it, we will be repeating our mistakes again and again,” Omar told reporters after the meeting.

He said the Prime Minister agreed with the delegation that development alone is not an answer to the crisis.

“The Prime Minister told us in categorical terms that development alone will not resolve this problem,” he said and refused to draw any conclusion from that.

“I am not going to put words into the Prime Minister’s mouth nor am I going to draw further meaning from what he said,” Omar said.

The delegation apprised the Prime Minister of the ground situation in the Valley which continues to remain under curfew for last 45 days.

Besides Omar, the delegation — comprising a seven-member team of state Congress led by its PCC chief G A Mir, CPM MLA M Y Tarigami, eight-member team of main opposition National Conference including its provincial chiefs Nasir Wani and Davinder Rana — has been camping in the national capital and meeting political leaders from the government and opposition.

Asked about the statement made by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in Jammu yesterday that stone-pelters were no “satyagrahis but aggressors”, Omar said “I do not wish to say anything on this as the Prime Minister told us nothing like this.

“And more importantly, let’s not play politics over Jammu and Kashmir. We will get ample time to play political games later.”

Omar said he was not in the national capital to score any political points. “I am not heartless that when my people are getting killed daily, I will play politics. Our motive is to break the cycle of death and find a long term solution to the problem.”

The delegation submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister, expressing “its anguish, grief and sorrow over the painful loss of lives in the Valley” and to express “dismay at the lack of a political approach to deal with the situation.”

The delegation apprised the Prime Minister that the tried and tested formulations of dealing with the issue in Kashmir administratively rather than politically have further exacerbated the situation and “created an unprecedented sense of disaffection and disenchantment – especially among the youth.

“We are of the firm opinion that the central government should waste no further time in initiating a credible and meaningful political dialogue with all stakeholders to address the unrest in the state,” the memorandum said.

The delegation said, “continued failure to address the unrest in Kashmir will further deepen the sense of alienation” and hoped that the Prime Minister “will take immediate measures to address this grave situation.”

“We hope that our efforts will bear some fruits. We are not here to complain about anyone but have come with a request that if our suggestions are heeded to, it will have a positive impact not only on Jammu and Kashmir but in the entire country,” he said.

Omar said “we all should learn from our mistakes. I learnt it in 2010 (agitation) and so should others. The problem is that we tend to believe that we have learnt from our past mistakes and then, more or less, become complacent.”

The memorandum requested the Prime Minister to announce “an immediate ban on pellet guns that have caused grievous injuries in the current unrest and maimed and blinded many young boys and girls”.

The leaders flagged the issue of youths falling victim to the continued protests, including a young teenager named Irfan who was killed last night when a teargas shell hit him on his chest.

“We also implore you to announce an immediate ban on pellet guns and advise relevant quarters against the policy of mass harassment, raids and arrests as this has worsened an already volatile situation in the State and also goes against the values and principles of democracy,” the memorandum said.

Asked about the Centre’s position on Pakistan-occupied- Kashmir, Omar said, “This question should be put to the PMO or Ministry of External Affairs. I am here to talk about my people in the state.”

The delegation started the political initiative on Saturday when it met President Pranab Mukherjee and submitted a memorandum, requesting him to use his office to influence the Centre for initiating a political dialogue with all stakeholders in the state.

Yesterday, the delegation met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and apprised him about the situation in the state.

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