September 04, 2010
Dear Dr. Manmohan Singhji,
I had visited Srinagar recently on August 22 & 23. I had met people from various walks of life and tried to get an assessment about the serious situation prevailing in Kashmir.
I would like to place before you some of the issues which are essential to be taken up without delay.
You had in the meeting of all parties from Jammu & Kashmir expressed your pain and grief at the loss of young lives in Kashmir. So far sixty six young boys and girls have died due to firing by the Central paramilitary and police forces. Those who have died are in the range of nine to twenty five years.
There has to be an immediate end to the resort to police firing to control the stone pelting crowds of youth. The Central and state governments should issue strict instructions to the security forces not to resort to police firings and use other measures to counter the situation. Every death is further inflaming the situation and brining ordinary people out into the streets to protest. Unfortunately, no distinction is being made between tackling the stone-throwing youth and the tactics adopted to fight the extremists resorting to terrorist violence.
I have got the medical reports of a number of those who have been injured in the police firings. Many of them will suffer from permanent disabilities. It is incumbent upon the Centre and the state administration to provide for adequate compensation to those injured in the police actions and rehabilitation measures for those who have permanent disabilities.
In order to help restore normalcy, it will be appropriate for the administration to release all young people who have been arrested and jailed if they are not facing any serious charges. I wish to point out to you that many juveniles are in jail. They should be released from prison.
The enforcement of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) is another major source of unrest. We have been asking for the amendment of the AFSPA to remove certain draconian provisions. But immediately to solve the problem, the Disturbed Areas Act should be withdrawn from Srinagar as this will make the use of AFSPA redundant in the city. As you are aware, a similar step was taken in Manipur when the Imphal region was exempted from the Act.
Many of the bunkers manned by the paramilitary forces in the Srinagar localities are unnecessary. They were set up at the height of the militancy in the early 1990s. They should be removed.
You had assured earlier that there would be zero tolerance for human rights violations. But unfortunately this is not being seen as being implemented on the ground. Action has not been taken against those guilty in the Pathribal incident. The recent Machil fake encounter case should be taken up and the guilty brought to book. Without such actions, it will not be possible to restore faith in the people that the State will not tolerate excesses and violations of human rights.
There is urgent need to generate employment for the youth in Kashmir. This must be accompanied by the rehabilitation of the thousands of former militants and those who were victims of militancy who need jobs and other assistance.
Given the major economic losses suffered due to the continued curfews and hartals for the past two months, the government has to compensate and revive trade and other economic activities of different sections of the people. Similarly, the disruption of education of the children due to closure of schools and other institutions should also be addressed.
Ultimately, the Kashmir issue cannot be resolved without a political settlement. There has to be a sustained dialogue with all sections of the people of the state. You had taken some initiative in your previous term in government. But they have not been carried forward.
This is the time to take a bold initiative for a political dialogue with all sections in the state. Only you can initiate such a process by announcing that a dialogue can be held with all sides without preconditions.
In this connection, I would like to stress that our Party feels that it is only by recognizing the special status of the state and assuring the Kashmiri people of their identity that a solution can be found. This requires a new political framework in which the bedrock is maximum autonomy.
Tackling the extremely serious situation in Kashmir where the mass of the people are deeply alienated from the Indian State should be accorded top priority. I request you to take necessary steps in this direction.
Dr. Manmohan Singh
Government of India