Mishandled Kashmir poses grave danger: Sonia

Updated July 21, 2016

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CHENNAI: Members of the Tamil Nadu Towheed Jamaat group hold placards and shout slogans here on Wednesday against the Indian government’s actions in India-held Jammu and Kashmir.—AFP
CHENNAI: Members of the Tamil Nadu Towheed Jamaat group hold placards and shout slogans here on Wednesday against the Indian government’s actions in India-held Jammu and Kashmir.—AFP

NEW DELHI: Indian opposition parties have slammed the Modi government’s use of excessive force against civilians in the disputed state of Jammu and Kashmir even as Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday described the unrest as a grave threat mishandled by New Delhi.

Addressing Congress MPs on the sidelines of the parliament’s monsoon session, she said that former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s government had done tremendous amount of good work in the valley but that was “no longer the case”.

“Recent events in the valley are tragic and pose a grave danger to the country. There can be no compromise on national security. Militants must be dealt with firmly. Yet we must ask ourselves, what has driven scores of young people to such levels of violence,” she said addressing the first meeting of Congress Parliamentary Party in the current session.

“Can we say in all honesty that we have responded with sincerity to their pleas,” Press Trust of India quoted Ms Gandhi as saying.

The disputed state has witnessed turmoil for the past 12 days after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani with clashes claiming over 45 lives.

Ms Gandhi said the loss of life and suffering of “our brothers and sisters, whether they are civilian or of the armed forces, is a source of deep anguish”.

“They are our people, we cannot forsake them,” she said. Lauding the UPA’s role in handling issues related to Kashmir, she said, “Dr Manmohan Singh’s government had done a tremendous amount of good work, along with a serious effort to open and sustain a dialogue. Sadly, this is no longer the case.

“We must respond with restraint and sensitivity to the harsh realities of recent months. Not doing so is fraught with dangerous long-term consequences. Our party’s position is clear and consistent: while borders cannot be redrawn, much can and must be done within the framework of our constitution,” she said.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2016