India home minister on separatists: 'They do not believe in democracy, humanity or Kashmiriyat'
Singh asserted that 'the doors and windows for dialogue' on Kashmir were always open but ruled out any talks with Pakistan on the issue in the near future saying, 'Let us first talk with the people within our country.' Photograph: (AFP)
Indian home minister Rajnath Singh today lashed out at Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir in India after their refusal to hold talks with members of the all-party delegation, saying the separatists' behaviour showed they do not believe in Kashmiriyat, insaniyat (humanity) or jamhooriyat (democracy).
Singh asserted that "the doors and windows for dialogue" on Kashmir were always open but ruled out any talks with Pakistan on the issue in the near future saying, "Let us first talk with the people within our country."
"Some members of delegation went to meet Hurriyat leaders in their individual capacity. We neither said 'Yes' nor 'No' (to the move).
"The information given by the delegates (about how the members were treated) makes it clear that it is neither Kashmiriyat nor insaniyat," Singh, who is leading the delegation, told reporters on the second day of its visit.
"The members had gone to hold talks but by refusing to talk, they have shown that they (separatists) do no believe in jamhooriyat as well," the Minister said, coming down heavily on the separatists who yesterday snubbed attempts by MPs like CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI's D Raja, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, RJD's Jay Prakash Narayan and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi to reach out to them.
At hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani's residence, the gate was not even opened for the MPs while people shouted slogans outside.
Singh evaded a direct reply to a question about BJP support or otherwise to the move by Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to write to the separatists urging them to engage with the delegation for resolution of Kashmir issue.
"Yes, I have information about that, she had written a letter," he said without specifying whether BJP, which is an ally of PDP in the state government, supported the move.
In response to another question, the home minister said he did not want to go into the debate about back channel talks with the separatists or appointment of a fresh team of interlocutors on Kashmir.
"Track one, Track Two, Track Three ... I do not want to get into this debate," he said.
The home minister said like his previous visits to Kashmir since the unrest began in the Valley, he had expressed his willingness for talks with anyone who wants peace and normalcy in the state.
Singh said they were ready for dialogue on Kashmir but made it clear that it will be only held within the ambit of the Constitution.
"There are no two opinions that Jammu and Kashmir was, is and will remain an integral part of India.
"I know people of Kashmir also want this.Not only our doors but windows are also open for talks," the union minister said.
Singh said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir will improve and everyone who met the delegation had expressed this wish.
"Everyone we met has the wish that situation in Kashmir should improve."
"I am convinced that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir will improve," he said.
Referring to his July visit to Kashmir at the start of the unrest in Kashmir, Singh said there was a demand for a ban on pellet guns from the people he met.
"We formed an expert committee which was mandated to submit a report on alternative to pellet guns within two months. The committee gave its report ahead of time and now PAVA has come.
"I understand that no one will lose life due to use of PAVA," he said.
Singh said 1,000 non-lethal PAVA shells have arrived in Kashmir yesterday. The minister said the delegation of 26 Parliamentarians from 20 parties came to Kashmir as they were very serious about the situation in the Valley.
He said the all-party delegation has taken suggestions from the people who interacted with it for improvement of situation in Kashmir.
"If required, we will take suggestions from them again in future," he said when asked if the Centre was willing to consider proposals like PDP's self-rule and National Conference's greater autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir within the ambit of the Constitution.
In response to another question, Singh ruled out any talks with Pakistan on Kashmir in near future.
"Let us first talk with the people within our country."
"Do not take it outside the country," he said.
"Parliament is the biggest Panchayat in the country and it is very serious about the situation in Kashmir. This panchayat decided to send a delegation to Kashmir to interact with the people," he said.
"We are not only concerned but pained by the situation in Kashmir. We need everyone's cooperation," he added.
Giving details about the engagements of the all-party delegation, Singh said they interacted with more than 30 delegations comprising 300 persons from different walks of life.
"We met the political parties, civil society, university teachers, vice chancellors, fruit growers, students and some intellectuals," he said.
He said the delegation also interacted with state Governor N N Vohra, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and officials of the state government yesterday.
The home minister said the Centre was providing all assistance to state government which is trying to improve the situation.
He said to address concerns of Kashmiri youths living in different parts of the country the Ministry has appointed Dr Sanjay Rai as nodal officer who can be approached on phone numbers 011-23092923, 23092885.