Dissent

Ensure Peaceful Ramzan in Kashmir, Urges Citizens’ Group

A Delhi-based group of ‘concerned citizens’ calls for a peaceful Ramzan and a non-violent, dialogic solution to the prolonged Kashmir conflict.

The prolonged Kashmir conflict has seen regular clashes between stonepelters and the security forces. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The Concerned Citizens Group on Monday, May 22, issued a statement calling for the government to take the lead in ensuring that a non-violent Ramzan is observed in Kashmir. The Delhi-based group of activists, led by former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha, has in the past visited Kashmir on multiple fact-finding missions and presented a report of their observations. They have also recommended that the government engage in talks with the Hurriyat and allow Kashmiris to assemble peacefully and hold meetings.

The group’s latest statement comes ahead of the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan and stresses on the continuing violence and strife in Kashmir. It calls, once again, for the government to engage in dialogue with Kashmir – rather than the use of force – with the aim of “bringing peace to the troubled region” and notes that several experienced military commanders have previously spoken in favour of this approach.

The statement urges all the concerned parties in the conflict to desist from violent acts such as stone-pelting and wielding guns, appealing to the government to deploy security forces only in the most extreme cases. The group had in the past made it clear that Kashmiris no longer have faith in the government of India, which they believe sees them only in the “framework of national security” and not as a political problem requiring a political solution, which it is. In a previous statement, they said that “An erosion of faith in democratic processes may eventually threaten the legitimacy of the State itself. This process needs to be stemmed and corrective measures taken,” reported The Hindu. In today’s statement, the group urges the government to take “all measures to stop this mayhem” and take note of the suffering along the LoC.

The statement was signed by Justice (retd) A. P. Shah, Yashwant Sinha, Salman Haidar, J.F. Ribeiro, Wajahat Habibullah, Vappala Balachandran,  A. S. Dulat, Nirupama Rao, Aruna Roy, Syeda Hameed, Kapil Kak, Manish Tewari, Badri Raina, Zoya Hasan, Ramhchandra Guha, S. Irfan Habib, Prem Shankar Jha, Shekhar Gupta, John Dayal, Bharat Bhushan and Sushobha Barve.

The group further states that the “call for peace cannot be unilateral” and that the government of Pakistan should also observe the ceasefire and avoid forces that “advocate militancy and terrorism” in Jammu and Kashmir. In conclusion, they urge for the government of India to start a dialogue with stakeholders in the Kashmir conflict as promised.