SRINAGAR: Advocating dialogue between India, Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir for resolution of the Kashmir dispute, separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference has listed a series of steps to build an atmosphere for the talks.
In its first significant political statement after abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories, the Hurriyat, led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has listed, among others, a halt on demographic change, revocation of laws that “disempower” the people of J&K, and release of the youth and political prisoners as steps to help build an atmosphere for talks.
“(We have) always advocated peace and growth for all the people of the region and it’s strong belief that this can actually be achieved with the resolution of the Kashmir conflict through dialogue among India and Pakistan and the people of J&K,” the organisation said in a “policy statement” on Thursday.
It stated, “For a dialogue, trust and a conducive atmosphere is the first requirement. To achieve this the government must revoke all measures of demographic change and all laws that disempower the people of J&K, especially since August 2019, and release the youth and all political prisoners from jails and under house detention, including its (Hurriyat) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.”
In its statement, the Hurriyat stopped short of seeking restoration of the position before August 5, 2019, a continuous demand made by Pakistan for resumption of dialogue with India.
A top Hurriyat leader told The Indian Express that the steps cannot be called preconditions for talks, and restoration of Article 370 is meaningless when their focus is on resolution of the dispute.
“These are the measures to improve the situation on the ground; to address the trust deficit. You can say these are the confidence building measures,” the leader said. “Our main focus is on (Article) 35A (that gave people of the erstwhile state exclusive right on land and jobs) and resolution of the dispute.”
The Hurriyat statement comes after the thaw in India-Pakistan relations, which has been welcomed by the separatist group. The Hurriyat, however, said that the impact of this is yet to be seen in J&K.
Terming the series of laws enacted by the Centre as “disturbing”, the Hurriyat said that non-resolution of the Kashmir issue has led to bloodshed in the Valley. “Passing and implementation of laws aimed at demographic change, post August 2019’s unilateral decision by the Government of India…has led to fear of loss of identity among the people of J&K which is deeply disturbing them,” it stated. “There is also great anguish at the loss of employment guarantees, land rights and exploitation of natural resources by outsiders”.
Without naming China, the Hurriyat said that the sudden rise in violence and killings, and the changing geopolitical reality, has necessitated immediate resolution of the Kashmir dispute.