PM to hold all-party meet as Kashmir ignites parliament
New Delhi: Blaming Pakistan for instigating trouble in Kashmir, the government on Wednesday agreed to hold an all-party meeting over the unrest in the valley after politicians from across the spectrum sought a political solution to bring peace to the restive state.
Rajya Sabha MPs asked the government to call the meeting over the Kashmir situation and then send a delegation of parliamentarians to the valley for talks with a cross section of the people.
"There will be an all-party meeting on August 12 (Friday). Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be in the meeting," Home Minister Rajnath Singh said after a day-long bipartisan discussion on Kashmir.
He, however, said that a delegation to be sent will have to wait before some normalcy is restored in the valley where over 55 people have died and thousands injured in a month of unrest following a militant commander's killing on July 8.
"Whatever is happening in the Kashmir Valley is sponsored by Pakistan," Rajnath Singh said.
"Nobody in the world can take Kashmir from us. If there will be talks with Pakistan, there won't be a discussion on Kashmir but on Pakistan- occupied Kashmir."
Initiating the debate, Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad urged the government to win the hearts and minds of people of the "integral part of India".
"We always say Kashmir is an integral part of India. But integral part should not be on paper only. There should be the integration of minds and hearts," Azad said, expressing concern over the violence and continued lockdown of the valley.
The Congress leader slammed the Prime Minister for not speaking in parliament about the situation in the valley and choosing a Madhya Pradesh rally to appeal for peace in Kashmir.
"If something happens in Africa, you (Modi) tweet, Pakistan is an enemy nation and still you speak when something happens there. It is good to show sympathy with all. But the crown of India (Kashmir) is burning. You must have felt the heat on your head, if not the heart."
He said Kashmir wasn't a mere law and order problem but "a complex issue".
"Politics comes first, economics second, employment after that. If we talk about electricity, roads and water, and not about politics, it will be wrong."
Azad's party colleague and former Jammu and Kashmir governor Karan Singh said the government and the house should "introspect why thousands of youths have embarked on a path of destruction" in the valley.
MPs from other parties joined the chorus and asked the government to stop using pellet guns against Kashmiri protesters.
"We have to end the violence and the current bloodshed in Kashmir. Start a political process to bring an end to the problems of people of Kashmir," CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
Janata Dal-United leader Sharad Yadav stressed on a political initiative to win the trust of the people of the state.
"(The) Prime Minister might say anything but it does not make any difference. The condition in Jammu and Kashmir is very bad. Modi says that we all love Kashmir, but this I would say is one-sided. We have to chalk out such political measures that the people of Jammu and Kashmir also start loving us."
Nazir Ahmad Laway, a Kashmir lawmaker from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), questioned why the nation remembered Kashmir only "when it is burning".
"The longer we take to resolve this issue, the harder it will be. Kashmiri people...don't trust us. They say delegations come and go, but nothing is ever done for us."