Concerned citizens have warned the government of the dangers latent in any attempt to leverage the developments in Jammu and Kashmir for electoral purposes.
In separate statements, they called for proactive measures to stop the violence and hatred directed at Kashmiris across the country in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.
In an open statement on Saturday, the Concerned Citizens Group said: “ At a time when the nation is passing through trying circumstances, we appeal that the government must not take any steps which detract from the Constitutional framework of the country or the universally accepted principles of Rule of Law. It is imperative that no innocent Kashmiri, within J&K or in the rest of India, is made to feel insecure or unsafe.”
Acknowledging that terrorism is a grave threat to the nation, the signatories to the statement said it should be dealt with unitedly by the nation’s leadership cutting across political lines.
“The current situation must, therefore, be dealt with in a non-partisan manner. Any attempt to leverage the developments in J&K for electoral purposes is fraught with danger and should be avoided at all costs.”
The statement has been signed by former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, peace activist Sushobha Barve, Air Vice-Marshal (retd) Kapil Kak and journalist Bharat Bhushan.
In a separate letter to the President sent earlier, former Chief of Naval Staff and peacenik Admiral (retd) L. Ramdas called for an immediate end to the “terrible media war being waged on innocent Kashmiris” who are going about their business quietly in towns and cities across the country.
“This message must come from the highest level — and the Honourable Prime Minister must be advised that he can halt this current backlash in minutes if he so chooses, by issuing stern and clear warnings against any violence and threats and harassment against citizens — be they Kashmiri or indeed Muslim citizens — through every channel, cadre and social media.”
On Saturday, the Prime Minister spoke up and appealed to every citizen to protect Kashmiris.
Ramdas pointed out that military force can “never erase an IDEA”, adding that India should introspect on why youngsters like Pulwama suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dar are getting alienated. “No amount of force as part of the avowedly ‘muscular’ Kashmir policy can quell this. We must act now and sit across the table and have an honest dialogue with all parties concerned.”
According to the former naval officer, the only solution is political and not military. “And a political solution must involve a genuine and continuous dialogue with the people of Kashmir — including dissidents and separatists; the Government of Pakistan and the Government of India,” Ramdas wrote.