Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today stressed on the need for initiating a political dialogue with stakeholders in the state saying it is "very important" even as he demanded an immediate ban on use of pellet guns against protesters
Speaking to reporters after meeting Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the National Conference leader said this is part of an ongoing process of engagement with the central government because "we believe that it is very important that a political dialogue be initiated with the stakeholders of Jammu and Kashmir".
Omar led an NC delegation and interacted with Singh for 45 minutes, official sources said.
They said the delegation urged the Home Minister to immediately ban use of pellet guns as a crowd control measure in Kashmir.
"They also demanded that Centre initiate a dialogue with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to find a lasting solution to the problems faced by the state," a source said.
Singh is on a two-day visit to review the security situation in the Valley which is in the grip of violent protests since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8.
Singh's visit came on a day when fresh clashes broke out between protesters and security forces in Pulwama district in which one youth was killed. The death toll in the unrest in Kashmir Valley has now climbed to 66.
"It is exactly this message that the united Opposition parties took to Delhi when we met the President, the Prime Minister and other leaders including Rahul Gandhi and Sitaram Yechury," Omar said.
"We will continue to press for those issues, both short term; in terms of excessive use of force, in terms of the injuries and loss of lives on account of the pellet guns, but also the medium to long term which is initiation of sustained meaningful dialogue to find what in the words of the PM is a lasting solution," he said.
Omar thanked Singh for promptness of the Centre in exhibiting "seriousness" about the suggestions made by the Opposition parties during their visit to Delhi.
"The situation is getting worse and this is what we told the Home Minister that this confrontationist attitude being adopted, the way we are worsening the situation by our statements. This confrontationist attitude, the use of force to control the situation is not the solution and this is what we told the Prime Minister and the Home Minister," Omar told reporters after his meeting with Singh here.
He lashed out at Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for "adding fuel to the fire rather than dousing the flames" by her statements.
"On one hand there is continuous curfew for the last 50 days and the whole valley is shut, government offices, schools are closed and trade is also shut, on the other hand the chief minister is saying that this is being done by just five per cent of people.
"If five per cent of people have wounded the state as well as the central government, then these five per cent are more powerful than all the rest. Then only these five per cent should control the situation. Rather than dousing the fire, we are adding more fuel to the fire by such statements. If we say that it is only five per cent, then people say fine we will show you this five per cent and then they organise the protests in much larger numbers," he said.
"I will not speak on behalf of the Home Minister because he will himself talk on what he wants to do. We too are hopeful and want to see how he views the situation on his second visit to the Valley in one month. We want to see how much forward he is ready to move.
"What he said on Twitter before leaving Delhi about those people who believe in Insaniyat, Kashmiriyat and Jhamooriyat, that he is ready to talk to them. We want to see how far he is ready to go regarding the statement of the PM about a lasting solution," he said.
The NC leader said his party would wait to see how far the message of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister has gone.
"We will have to wait to see how far the message, which should have gone (to the people), has gone to them, the Home Minister is here till tomorrow and what preparations has the state government done for his visit and what steps has it taken to make those people ready to talk to the Home Minister who did not talk to him the last time," he said.
Omar also criticised the decision to deploy BSF in Srinagar after 12 years saying it was a serious development.
He said for the settlement of the Kashmir issue at some point India has to talk to Pakistan.
"Today we want solution of this issue internally. It is quite understandable that if we want one time settlement of Jammu and Kashmir issue then at one point we will have to talk with Pakistan," he said.