New Delhi, Aug 20 (IANS) As Kashmir Valley continued to be paralysed under curfew and shutdown for the 43rd day, the government on Saturday appealed to the people of the Valley to shun the path of confrontation and join the path of progress.
In a related development, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah led a delegation of opposition lawmakers to meet President Pranab Mukherjee and urged him to ask the Centre to handle the situation in the Kashmir valley politically and not administratively.
Making an appeal to the valley, where over 65 people have died in clashes so far, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said at a rally in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh: “We not only love the land of Kashmir but also its people. I appeal to you to shun the path of confrontation and join the path of progress. We do not want to see stones, bricks and firearms in your hands but pen, computers and jobs. We want to see you employed.”
He also said that violent protest cannot be a solution to a particular issue.
“There should be peace at first then issues can be resolved through talks,” he said.
Rajnath Singh also lashed out at Pakistan and accused it of stoking violence in Kashmir.
Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said that the Centre and the BJP-PDP alliance state government were doing everything to normalise the situation.
He urged all sections of people including a section of the media to exercise restraint in speaking on the sensitive issue.
He said that media too should ensure that such footage is not shown “that could be used by our adversaries against us”.
In his meeting with President Mukherjee, Omar Abdullah said the problem in Jammu and Kashmir stems from its polity. “It is a political problem. It cannot be handled administratively and not through the use of force. It cannot be handled by creating a humanitarian crisis.”
The National Conference leader said the delegation urged the President to impress upon the central government to initiate a credible and meaningful process of political dialogue without any further delay involving all stakeholders to address the political issues in the state.
It also urged him to influence the central and the state governments to stop the use of lethal force against civilians in the Valley.
Abdullah also criticised the ruling BJP-PDP alliance in the state for its handling of the violence in the Valley.
“Over the last couple of days we have found that an effort is being made to crush the ongoing agitation in Jammu and Kashmir by heaping more misery on the people,” he said.
The delegation also submitted a memorandum to the President.
“We express our deep disappointment and displeasure at the response of both the central and the state governments to the current unrest in Kashmir, which stems from their insensitivity towards the sufferings and sentiments of the people of the state.
“The failure of the central government to acknowledge that the issue in Kashmir is largely of a political nature has worsened the already volatile situation. The central government’s refusal to deal with the situation through a political approach is disappointing and can have serious long term implications on peace and stability in the state,” the memorandum said.
Earlier, Omar led a MLAs’ delegation and apprised the President of the situation prevailing in the Valley.
He said the situation went out of control after the July 8 killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani and was “due to our own mistakes”.
“Pakistan has been trying to destabilise peace in the Valley for the last 25 years. But if you ask me if the situation created after Wani’s killing was due to Pakistan, I will have to say ‘no’,” the NC leader said.
He said Pakistan undoubtedly tried to fuel the situation and succeeded too to some extent. “But the immediate turmoil was due to our own mistakes.”
Omar said it is for the first time that the initiatives that should have been taken by the government are being taken by the opposition.
“The people who today are undergoing the 43rd day of restrictions and curfew are having further restriction placed on them. With the sale of petroleum and other products being banned, with the movements of ambulances the hospitals are being affected, with stringent curfew measures being enforced, all that is happening is that more and more people are being driven out on to the streets and the problem is getting worse,” the former Chief Minister added.