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Jammu and Kashmir crisis: No talks with separatists or those demanding `azadi`, Modi govt tells Supreme Court

The Supreme Court said it will ask the government not to use pellet guns in Jammu and Kashmir if there was no violence, no stone throwing and students return to classes.


Jammu and Kashmir crisis: No talks with separatists or those demanding `azadi`, Modi govt tells Supreme Court
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New Delhi: The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that there would be no talks with separatist elements or those raising the issues of "accession or azadi" in the Kashmir Valley.

A dialogue to restore normalcy was possible only with the legally recognised stakeholders, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the SC.

The apex court also was in agreement with the view of Rohatgi and said that "all those whom the law does not prevent, can meet and come out with suggestions, as the situation is not very palpable".

The court's observation came as Rohatgi said: "The government would come to the negotiation table only if the legally recognised stakeholders participate in the dialogue and not with the separatist elements who rake up the issue of accession or azadi in Kashmir."

The Supreme Court said it will ask the government not to use pellet guns in Jammu and Kashmir if there was no violence, no stone throwing and students return to classes.

Asking leaders of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Srinagar, to come forward with "positive suggestions" to diffuse the situation, Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said: "If you suggest something within the framework of the Constitution, we will assure you there will be a dialogue.”

Notably, leaders of the Bar Association wanted the government to hold talks with Hurriyat leaders - currently under house arrest - without conditions.

Giving time to the Bar Association till May 9 to come up with "positive suggestions", the court said: "You must first tell us what you will do. Then we will direct the government. If you keep throwing stones, how will it work?"

It told the bar, which has sought a ban on the use of pellet guns to quell the agitating mob, to take "first steps" of bringing all stakeholders to the table for workable suggestions to overcome the crisis.

The apex court also took exception to the stand of the bar that it cannot vouch for all stakeholders and could only speak on behalf of lawyers by telling it that "you cannot take such a stand when you have come here".

The lawyer's body was asked by the bench to give an undertaking that it will persuade them to keep away from such violent agitations.

However, the bar expressed reluctance, saying it cannot vouch for everybody in the Valley.

The submissions did not go down well with the bench, which said: "You make an undertaking that there will be no agitation for two weeks then we will direct them (Centre) to keep away the security forces from using pellet guns.”

"But first positive foot forward has to come from you. This is the last opportunity and you have to play an important role. You will have to come forward. If you take the first step, you will be remembered forever in history," the bench told the counsel appearing for the bar association.

Justice Kaul told the counsel for the Bar Association that students have to get back to their colleges and universities. "Stop this violence. There is so much of unemployment."Kaul told the counsel for the Bar Association that students have to get back to their colleges and universities. "Stop this violence. There is so much of unemployment."

Taking exception to the affidavit filed by the Bar Association, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said they were even doubting the accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India.

He said the Bar Association was accusing the security forces of following a strategy of catch and kill and describing all the elections held till date in the state as rigged.

"We can't give any commitment about the talks. It's just a proxy war. At one hand he says he does not vouch for all others and on the other hand, he wants the withdrawal of security forces and goes to the extent of saying that all elections (in the state) are rigged. They say we catch and kill people. We are not attacking our people. You say I (bar body) am an interlocutor but also say you cannot vouch for everyone," Rohatgi said.

Rohatgi described as "political" as the counsel for the Bar Association referred to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's reported decision of a unilateral ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Don't have a political debate," the Attorney General told the counsel.

Making it clear that it will not talk to separatists or those demanding 'azadi', the Centre said it will only talk to people who are legally permitted to speak on behalf of the people.

He also made it clear that politics cannot be allowed as the talks to bring normalcy in the Valley was going on at the highest level between Prime Minister and J&K Chief Minister.

"The Chief Minister is with the Prime Minister, what further dialogue is required? The Prime Minister has invited the Chief Minister. She (Mehbooba Mufti) is their CM," he said.

The Attorney General moderated his strong stand only after Chief Justice Khehar, sensing the Centre's apparent discomfort with the role the court has taken upon itself, said: "We will close it at this moment if you say one line 'We don't have jurisdiction'."

Also Read: Afshan Ashique, Kashmiri girl who pelted stones at police, wants to play football for India

Pointing to the road map for the talks, the Attorney General said there must be rule of law in the state, where a separatist campaign raging since 1989 has left thousands dead.

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association against the High Court order seeking a stay on the use of pellet guns as a large number of people had been killed or injured due to their use.

During the last hearing on April 10, the Centre had told the Supreme Court it was exploring a crowd control option that is akin to rubber bullets but not as lethal as pellet guns which were being used as a last resort to quell the violence.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on September 22 rejected the plea seeking a ban on the use of pellet guns on the ground that the Centre had already constituted a Committee of Experts through its memorandum of July 26, 2016, for exploring alternatives to pellet guns. 

From Zee News

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