J&K parties for probe into civilian deaths, PM’s intervention

An all-party meet in J&K has called for a probe into civilian deaths.

Updated: Jul 12, 2010, 23:23 PM IST

Srinagar: In a two-pronged strategy to
defuse the current crisis in Jammu and Kashmir, an all-party
meeting today called for an independent inquiry into the death
of civilians and also urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to
give fillip to "internal and external dialogue".

The meeting, convened by beleaguered Chief Minister
Omar Abdullah, appealed to all political parties to help in
restoration of peace and normalcy in the state which has been
rocked by disturbances in the past one month that has seen the
death of 15 persons, mostly in firing by security personnel.

The main opposition party PDP and another regional
outfit Panthers Party stayed away from the meeting that lasted
over four hours. But besides the ruling National Conference
and Congress, the meeting was attended by BJP and CPI(M).

Abdullah told reporters that the meeting had decided
that an all-party delegation will call on the Prime Minister
to draw his attention to various problems faced by the people
of the state.

The meeting also urged the Government of India to
strengthen the on-going peace process through internal and
external dialogue, the Chief Minister said without
elaborating.

This is obviously a reference to the dialogue with the
moderate Hurriyat Conference and, externally, with Pakistan.

The Chief Minister said BJP was not party to the
demand for independent inquiry into the civilian deaths.

"Keeping in view the suffering of the people, huge
economic loss and adverse impact on the education of the
children, the all-party meeting urged the people irrespective
of their political affiliations to come forward and help in
the restoration of peace and normalcy," the statement said.

PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti boycotted the meeting saying
it was an exercise in futility. She had even rejected the
Prime Minister`s appeal to her to attend the meeting to join
hands with the government to tackle the current crisis.

The parties urged the state government have an
inquiry conducted to ascertain the circumstances leading to
the death of civilians.

The meeting expressed deep anguish at the unfortunate
loss of lives during the recent disturbances and appealed to
the state government to consider adequate relief for the
families of the deceased.

It, however, expressed dismay over the economic loss
suffered by the people during the disturbances, particularly
by the small traders, vendors, daily wagers and weaker
sections of the society.

At the meeting, leaders including Saif-ud-din Soz
(Congress), Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami (CPI-M), Ashok Khajuria
(BJP) and others from CPI, BSP, Samajwadi party and
Nationalist Congress Party extended complete support to the
Government headed by Abdullah.

The leaders also criticised PDP for not attending the
meeting. CPI state president A R Takroo expressed regret that
PDP on the one hand was trying to hijack the agenda of
Hurriyat Conference and on the other trying to convince the
Centre and the Prime Minister that it is a nationalist party.

Briefing the party leaders, the Chief Minister, in a
veiled attack on PDP, said that some of the parties had
made a statement that the Government had called for a meeting
after exercising all its options including calling in the
Army.

"My house is burning and do I need to consult the
neighbours or friends first or call a fire tender. I never
want innocent to die. I had to send the mob inside the home
and for that if the administration had to be strict, it had to
be."

Other leaders who spoke at the meeting included state
BJP President S S Manhas who supported the decision of the
government of calling in the army and said that all parties
should work out a meeting with the Centre for some employment
package for the state.

The non participation of PDP was also criticised by the
state Congress President Saif-ud-din Soz who said that every
party should have come and joined the government at a
difficult time. "We have differences but it is the time to
overcome it," he said.

He said that at no point the Centre was undermining the
position of the Chief Minister. The comments came in response
of statements made by various political leaders including
Tarigami, Abdul Rasheed, Hakim Yassen (Independent MLAs) and
CPI objecting to the statements made by Union Home Secretary G
K Pillai about relaxation of curfew.

National Conference President Farooq Abdullah said it
was time when everyone should be united. "We will succeed if
united and fall if divided."

In his concluding remarks, the Chief Minister said the
state was passing through a difficult phase and added that
some vested interests were working overtime to disturb the
communal ethos of the state.

"I took over as the Chief Minister at a difficult phase
when the Indo-Pakistan relations were at the lowest ebb.
However, I am hopeful that things will come towards normalcy,"
Omar said adding "every effort should be made to reduce the
influence of gun in the state."

He also announced that the state Government was
committed on having the Panchayat elections in September to
November.

-PTI