Start dialogue process in Kashmir, Azad tells government

New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) Welcoming Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s proposed visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress on Tuesday said the government should start the dialogue process immediately and decide who to hold the dialogue with.

The opposition party also said that dialogue was the way forward for peace in the Valley and not guns, lathicharge or use of tear gas and pellet guns.

“We had informed the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is very bad. We requested him to start the dialogue process. Who to talk to and when — they should at least make an announcement and start the process,” said Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

“We also told the government to ban the use of pellet guns. The Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) is going to Kashmir (on Wednesday); it is a good thing. He should keep going there. But, I don’t think by using guns and by lathicharge or by using tear gas and pellet guns we can bring peace there. Peace will come only by dialogue,” he added.

Azad said the government should decide who to start the dialogue with in Kashmir.

“So many days have passed since the curfew has been imposed; they have not started the dialogue. We also told them we will not identify who to talk to. They are in power at both the Centre and in state; they should decide who to have the dialogue with,” the Congress leader said.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Jammu and Kashmir to take stock of the situation in the Valley, where restrictions continued in many parts for the 46th consecutive day on Tuesday.

Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi will accompany the minister on the two-day visit, official sources said.

Rajnath Singh’s visit, the second to the state in a month, comes after opposition legislators of Jammu and Kashmir held several meetings in Delhi including with President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanded a “political solution” to the ongoing unrest.

At least 68 people, including 66 civilians and two policemen, have died in the violence in the Valley since July 9, a day after Hizbul militant Burhan Wani was killed by security forces.



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