“Kashmir Situation Needs A Human Touch”

“Kashmir Situation Needs A Human Touch”

2 September 2010
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

Srinagar: Peace activist Swami Agnivesh on Thursday appealed to the Union government to reach out to youth in Kashmir. Protests in the Valley were not orchestrated from across the border. They were spontaneous as the alienation of people had touched new heights. People were not for Pakistan, but they surely talk about “Azadi,” he told The Hindu , before winding up his three-day visit to Kashmir. There were strong feelings of disillusionment on the ground. “But the heartening part is that people here do not talk about Kashmir's merger with Pakistan but surely about Azadi.” A big message “It is a big message for the whole India that Kashmir people neither identify themselves with Pakistan nor hobnob with them. The impression that the ongoing protests were engineered or provoked by Pakistan is not true,” he said. “New Delhi should not even loosely make such allegations as what we have seen during our extensive interaction with people at different levels it is purely indigenous” he said. Unless provoked the protests also would turn out to be peaceful. But the killing of 65 people had worsened the situation and “pain and agony, which we could feel is understandable.” The Arya Samaj leader said the presence of paramilitary and military forces should be reduced and the police entrusted with the job of maintaining law and order. “The situation immediately needs a human touch though the problem is of political nature. But the wounds inflicted on the people here are deep and it needs healing.” Accompanied by the former Navy chief Admiral (retd) L. Ramdas; the former National Commission for Women chairperson Mohini Giri; Father Dominic and Mazhar Hussain, he said a group of civil society members would seek meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to apprise them of the ground situation. “Rahul Gandhi is new centre of power in Delhi and his recent role in reaching out to people is significant,” he said adding, “We believe he still has blood of Kashmir running in his body and he should reach out to the youth of Kashmir and he has capacity to do so”. “It cannot be unilateral dialogue but it has to be more in-depth.” Besides the government, the civil society in Kashmir and rest of India must put the heads together to iron out misunderstandings. “We need a modern day solution, which will be long-term one.” However, to achieve the goal the right atmosphere must be created, he said. Swami Agnivesh and his team met Kashmiri leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Governor N.N. Vohra and Ministers. “Not hobnobbing with anyone” Swami Agnivesh denied that he was taking dictation from Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on the Maoist issue, and said he was a “free soul.” Reacting to Maoist leader Kishenji's allegations, Swami Agnivesh told The Hindu that he was pained at the death of Cherkuri Rajkumar alias Azad and had been raising his voice against the killing in a fake encounter (in Adilabad, Andhra Pradesh). “I have been demanding a judicial enquiry into his killing because I feel morally responsible as he was taking my letter on June 26 to fix the date of meeting with Maoist leaders but he was brutally killed,” Swami Agnivesh said, adding, “I am not hobnobbing with any one. My conscience is clear. I am a sanyasi and a free soul who believes in spirituality and not in the power of government.”


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