Kashmiri leaders want amnesty for militants and prisoners
30 April 2007
The Daily Times
New Delhi: Kashmiri leaders from both sides of the Line of Control (LoC) issued a joint statement on Monday calling for a general amnesty for militants and political prisoners and for government support in facilitating the movement of men and material across the LoC. The leaders also decided to form coordination committees of legislators, women and youth to strengthen and accelerate the peace process between India and Pakistan. The meeting, jointly organised by former Azad Jammu and Kashmir prime minister Sardar Abdul Qayum Khan and Panthers Party chief Prof Bhim Singh, urged the Indian government to allow jailed militants and political leaders to start a new life. Demanding a general amnesty for all militants and safe passage for foreign militants, the statement that those suffering in jails or still present in Jammu and Kashmir should be given an opportunity to return home. The statement was released at the conclusion of the Heart-to-Heart conference, which was attended by several politicians, academics and journalists from Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Leaders from the Indian side of Kashmir were noticeably absent. Reiterating their commitment to strengthen the ongoing peace process, the joint statement said the conference participants vowed to facilitate the peace process in every respect. They identified harsh restrictions on both sides as impediments for people-to-people interaction between the two Kashmirs. We strongly recommend that all the historical and natural routes, including pony, road and rail routes, should be restored to their pre-partition state, said the statement. The statement recommended that the arrangement regarding cross-LoC travel from before 1956 be restored, including deputy commissioners power to issue travel permits. Khan said that an arrangement needed to be evolved to include Hurriyat and other groups in the intra-Kashmir dialogue process. He said the Indian govt should encourage all the groups to vent their feelings through democratic means, referring to recent arrests of Hurriyat leaders after a massive rally in Srinagar.