‘New Delhi must repeal laws like the AFSPA first’

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Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Hurriyat supremo, tells Parvaiz Bukhari the government is losing its connect with the Kashmiri people

Photo: AP

How do you describe the situation in Kashmir?
The situation is quite bad. Killings are happening continuously. The government, police and armed forces are not held accountable. The administration has no clue how to deal with the situation. They are using military means rather than a political approach to deal with the situation.

Your stand on limiting the Amarnath Yatra to 15 days?
A wrong impression is being created that the pro-freedom parties are against the Yatra. We’re not against it. But there are environmental concerns that should be taken care of. People have been coming for this Yatra for centuries. We would like them to visit other areas and see for themselves what is happening in Kashmir.

Do you see a regional confrontation on this?
No. Right now the people are more concerned about the need to repeal laws like the AFSPA. A negative image of Kashmir is deliberately being created, to perpetuate the use of these black laws and justify continuation of military aggression here. Stories of large infiltration are being spread, while unarmed civilians are being killed here.

As a proponent of dialogue, you’ve rejected the PM’S latest offer for talks.
The Hurriyat Conference has stood for a result-oriented dialogue. But it cannot go hand in hand with killings and bloodshed. If New Delhi is sincere about addressing the Kashmir issue, it should start by repealing the black laws, and create a conducive atmosphere. Dialogue for dialogue’s sake, as in past engagements with New Delhi, is meaningless. Solutions will not come overnight, but what is stopping New Delhi from putting confidence-building measures on the ground?

You criticise New Delhi for setting conditions for a dialogue, while you’re doing the same
No. Jammu and Kashmir is going from bad to worse. We’ve gone out of our way to reach out to New Delhi. Despite being confined to our houses, Hurriyat leaders are being arrested and innocents are being killed for money and promotions. We are accountable to people. People ask us what steps New Delhi has taken in the past to reach out to them, besides hollow slogans of economic upliftment and packages.

‘The more the government reacts militarily, the more it is going to face opposition on the ground’

The CM said separatists call for shutdowns from the safety of their houses.
He should name the leaders. Through such allegations, the government is trying to hide its failures and making attempts to pitch leaders against the people. It is not allowing funeral processions, and is stopping us even from presenting a memorandum to the UNMOGIP office here.

The CM has also acknowledged the situation is grim. What do you think can change it in the short term?
The way the police, the CRPF and the army behave here has to change. The government can start by withdrawing the paramilitary and army camps from the city and other towns. The government must rein them in

Will the police chief and other transfers in the wake of the recent killings help?
It is going to have the opposite effect. On the one hand, they are saying the government does not believe in stones versus bullets; on the other hand they are bringing in officers whose record of brutality is well known.

 

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