The Kashmir unrest refuses to die even as 51 days have passed since it broke out on June 9 after the encounter of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani. As per estimates, 71 people — 68 civilians and three policemen — have been killed in this present bout of violence. The unrest has become a major point of conflict between India and Pakistan. While the latter has denied its hand in the unrest, Pakistani leaders including PM Nawaz Sharif have not left any opportunity to further stoke the fire in Kashmir.
India accuses the neighbouring country of instigating local youths against Indian security forces and government. The Indian government has also toughened its stand against Pakistan, besides announcing several schemes for the Valley residents. The Union government has also launched a series of confidence-building measures, including talks with various stakeholders.
Here are some of the latest developments vis-a-vis Kashmir.
August 29, 2016
Curfew lifted after 51 days
Authorities lift the curfew in Kashmir after 51 days. The curfew was imposed in the Valley after unrest started on July 9. Though curfew was lifted from the entire Valley, it would remain in force in Pulwama town and in areas under the jurisdiction of Nowhatta and MR Gunj police stations in Srinagar. The decision to lift curfew was taken at a high- level security meeting on Sunday evening, according to sources.
An All-Party delegation comprising senior leaders of political parties is slated to visit Kashmir on September 3. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to accompany the delegation. Meanwhile, separatists here continued their protest shutdown despite the lifting of the curfew. In a statement issued last week, the separatists asked people to continue the shutdown until September 1. All senior separatist leaders have been placed under detention in Srinagar city.
August 28, 2016
‘Mamta, Ekta’ will lead to peace
Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes a fresh bid for peace in the valley. In his monthly radio programme, ‘Mann Ki Baat’, PM says “Ekta” (unity) and “Mamata” (love) are the basic mantras for addressing Kashmir problem. The PM slams those pushing “innocent” children to violence, saying they will have to answer them some day. He says if any life is lost in the valley, whether of any youth or any security man, “that loss is ours, of our own, of our own country”. All the political parties have spoken in one voice on Kashmir, sending out a “message to the world as well as separatist forces” besides conveying “our sentiments to the people of Kashmir”, he adds.
Stating that the approach adopted by former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the only way to resolve the Kashmir dispute, Jammu and Kashmir chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti says if the dispute is not resolved under PM Modi it will never be resolved.
UJALA scheme in J&K
CM Mehbooba Mufti launches central government’s UJALA scheme in J&K with the distribution of LED bulbs among people. Under this scheme, a consumer can buy five LED bulbs at the rate of Rs 20 each by showing monthly electricity bills or ID cards.
August 27, 2016
Mufti meets PM
CM Mehbooba Mufti meets PM Modi to discuss the state of unrest in the Valley. This is the first time that the two incumbents met in order to discuss the turbulence that has engulfed Kashmir.
Mufti says Pakistan has made no initiative to resolve Kashmir’s situation while asserting that she has trust in Modi and they will bring peace to the Valley. Mehbooba while accusing Pakistan of adding fuel to the fire said, that the country has repeatedly provoked the youth to pick up stones in the streets. She further says, PM Modi is concerned about Kashmir and will put in all his efforts to break this deadlock. “He went to Pakistan and so did Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Now it’s Pakistan’s turn to take an initiative.”
‘We took the first step for dialogue’
Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit says Pakistani leadership feels the need to hold talks over Kashmir, however, their invitation didn’t move forward with the Indian counterpart. “You all know that we took a step towards having dialogue but that didn’t work out. We did send an invite to India but that did not move forward. We do feel talks on Kashmir is needed.”
Sharif nominates 22 leaders to highlight Kashmir issue at UN
Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif nominates 22 parliamentarians to highlight the “plight” of Kashmiris in United Nations in Septemeber. Sharif urges the special envoys to work on the issue of Kashmir so that they can produce an effective report on how the Valley has been faring. He said that they would expose the abuse of rights in the ongoing violence in the state. Sharif further said, “I am standing behind these special envoys to ensure their toil for highlighting the Kashmir Cause resonates across the world so that I can shake the collective conscience of the international community during my address at the UN this September”, reports Dunya News.
PDP appeals to separatists
In an unusual move, ruling PDP in the state appeals to hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani to give a chance to CM Mufti to address the grievances of people of the state. PDP says the separatist leader “must think of Mehbooba as his daughter, who also happens to be the first Kashmiri Muslim woman to lead our state”.
August 26, 2016
Alternative to pellet guns
An expert committee constituted by the Union Home Ministry to find alternatives to pellet guns for use in Kashmir zeroes in on a string of irritants as replacement, including pepper balls and tear gas shells with enhanced potency. Indian Express reports the committee is likely to suggest the use of synthetic oleoresin capsicum gas and a more potent tear gas apart from marker and stun grenades. These are non-lethal weapons which temporarily incapacitate people and are not likely to cause severe injuries. But security forces are not very sure of these alternatives.
The Jammu and Kashmir government identifies 169 people of being ‘organisers and provocateurs’ playing a ‘leading role in the current unrest in Kashmir’. The government decides to invoke Public Safety Act to book all the accused. These 169 are among the estimated 1,000 people who have been identified as key players in the ongoing protests and clashes with security forces. As per PSA, a person can be arrested and imprisoned without trial for up to six months on mere suspicion that he/she may be acting “in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
The ongoing unrest in Kashmir leads to a whopping Rs 6,400-crore loss to the economy of the Valley, with businesses being badly hit due to curfew and separatist-sponsored strikes. Tourist and other business activities in Kashmir have come to a halt.
JKNPP gets permission to assess Kashmir situation
Supreme Court allows J&K National Panthers Party (JKNPP) leader Bhim Singh, who has sought imposition of Governor’s rule in the troubled state, to visit Srinagar and assess the “ground reality” there. “We are not stopping you from talking to local people or Hurriyat. It is a free country and anyone can talk to anyone but we will not give you any license or authorization for your political angle,” the bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur says, adding that he should tell the court about the ground situation in schools, colleges and hospitals. The court says governor’s rule under section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir is not the only panacea for everything.
August 25, 2016
Rajnath visits Kashmir
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh visits for two days Kashmir to hold talks with various stakeholders. This is the second visit of Rajnath in the Valley in a month. During a press conference along with CM Mufti, Singh asks people of the state and all other stakeholders to make efforts to bring peace to the region, while CM Mufti lashes out at people who want to keep the state on the boil. More than 95% people of Jammu and Kashmir are interested in bringing normalcy to the state through dialogue and only 5% people are behind the unrest in the Valley, Mufti says
MLA Abdul Rasheed meets Rajnath
Controversial Independent MLA Sheikh Abdul Rasheed, who has pro-separatist leanings, meets Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and says that the only way to resolve Kashmir issue is to hold “plebiscite” on both sides of the Line of Control (LoC). Rasheed, who led a five-member party delegation of his Awami Ittihad Party which met the Home Minister, said the government of India needs to understand that passing the buck and avoiding the resolution is the only reason why Jammu and Kashmir has been “bleeding” since 1947, a spokesman of the party said in a statement. The MLA claimed that seeking “right to self- determination” does not violate Constitution of India and also does not amount to separatism, the spokesman said
August 22, 2016
Omar meets PM
An opposition delegation from Jammu and Kashmir led by former CM and National Conference chief Omar Abdullah meets PM Modi to discuss the turmoil in the state. The delegation informs the PM of the ground situation in the state. The delegation submits a memorandum to PM Modi seeking an immediate ban on pellet guns in the state. The team further requests the PM to initiate dialogue with all stakeholders in the Kashmir valley immediately.
(Inputs from agencies)