‘Political dialogue must precede peace, not follow it’

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New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) Political dialogue must precede peace and not follow it, a group of eminent personalities said on Thursday and urged the Centre to initiate dialogue with various stakeholders to restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

Their stand was voiced when over 30 eminent persons, including former Union Ministers Yashwant Sinha and Manish Tewari, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, journalists H.K. Dua and Bharat Bhushan, participated in a round table discussion on the Kashmir situation organised by the Delhi-based Institute of Social Sciences.

They said a group of concerned citizens will go to Jammu and Kashmir and meet various stakeholders again to help resolve the current impasse to ensure in peace in the Kashmir Valley.

The group said in a statement here that as violence shows no signs of abating in Kashmir, people are getting disillusioned and conventional politics in the state is “gasping for breath”.

“A sense of fear, utter helplessness and alienation from the national mainstream is prevailing in the absence of political engagement. Militarisation of public and policy discourse is worrying. The Pakistan constituency and radicalisation among the youth is growing,” the statement read.

“Confidence in state institutions has never been so low. How the situation in Jammu and Kashmir has turned so ugly and brutal is unthinkable. Before the unthinkable becomes irreversible, civil society and concerned citizens must act,” it said.

The statement said that violence can never be a way forward but dialogue can be.

“If the government is reluctant to enter into a dialogue, the concerned citizens must engage with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. People-to-people contacts were never so needed as they are now,” it said.

Other participants included Kapil Kak, K.C. Singh, Shujaat Bukhari, Rahul Jalali, Vinod Sharma, Maya Mirchandani, Anand Sahay, Saba Naqvi, Shushobha Barve, Tapan Bose, Sanjoy Hazarika, Humra Quraishi, Sumit Chakravarttty, Pankaj Pachauri, M.K. Tikku, Ash Narain Roy, George Mathew, and Rekha Saxena.

–IANS

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