Centre Afraid of Identifying Stakeholders in Kashmir: Azad

SRINAGAR: A week after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spelled out a “permanent solution” to the Kashmir issue based on “five Cs”, opposition Congress party Saturday said that BJP-led government was afraid of naming the stakeholders in Kashmir to resolve the issue.

“Central and state governments have to decide which stakeholders to talk to. Everyone knows who the stakeholders are but they (BJP) are afraid to take the names. When they are afraid to even identify them as stakeholders, how will there be a resolution,” Azad said.

Congress leader was speaking with reporters at Hari Niwas here where the group led by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is holding meetings for next two days.

Rajnath Singh had during his four-day visit to Valley last week said the government was working towards a permanent solution to all issues in Kashmir on the basis of five Cs--Compassion, Communication, Co-existence, Confidence-building and Consistency.

The All India Congress Committee’s (AICC’s) ‘Policy and Planning’ group was formed in April in the wake of mass unrest in the state during the Srinagar Lok Sabha bypolls.

The other members of the group include, former Union home minister P. Chidambaram and party general secretary Ambika Soni.

Azad said the group is scheduled to meet various delegations from Kashmir, including opposition parties.

Azad said, meeting separatist leaders is not part of the group’s agenda.

“45 delegations are meeting us, but I did not see the Hurriyat in the list,” Azad said in reply to a question.

He however asked the central as well as the state government to keep the dialogue route with separatists open.

“The central as well as the state government have to decide which stakeholders to talk to. Everyone knows who the stakeholders are, but they are afraid to take the names. And when they are afraid to even identify them as stakeholders, how will there be a resolution? They (central and state governments) should talk to them (separatists) and try to resolve the issue,” the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha said.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by raising the emotions of people but has remained silent since taking over the reins of the country.

“Modi’s election win was 90% because of Kashmir. In our rule, one soldier was beheaded by Pakistani troops (along the Line of Control), but such instances have happened a number of times now in their (BJP) rule, and still the prime minister is silent,” he said.

The former J&K chief minister said the Congress government had made south Kashmir militancy-free, but the region had been on boil since the PDP-BJP coalition came to power in the state.

“We had made south Kashmir militancy-free during my tenure (as chief minister) in 2007. But, where is south Kashmir today? It is boiling. No one is coming to Kashmir, no tourist. The number of ceasefire violations in these three years is more than the total in 10 years of UPA,” he claimed.

“So many soldiers have been killed, common people injured ...and the way small kids including girls have lost their eyes, it did not happen during our time,” he said in an apparent reference to a series of stone pelting incidents in the valley.

Asked about the party’s stand on Article 35A of the Constitution, the senior Congress leader said the party knew its stand, but the group was here to listen to people.

Article 35A renders special status to the northern state.

“Firstly, we have come to listen to all. So, we have not come here only for 35-A. This committee was formed much before the issue of 35-A erupted. The panel was formed keeping in view the overall situation of Jammu and Kashmir which has deteriorated under the BJP rule,” he said.

The Congress panel will hold a meeting with MLAs and MLCs, besides interacting with a delegation of minority community, civil society activists and fruit growers, tomorrow. 

The party had completed the first leg of its tour in Jammu on September 10 and 11. 

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