Govt rules out talks with Kashmir separatists; Supreme Court agrees
The government on Friday ruled out talks with separatist elements or those raising the issues of "accession or Azadi" in the Kashmir Valley, telling the Supreme Court that a dialogue to restore normalcy was possible only with the legally recognised stakeholders.
The apex court also was in agreement with the view of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and said "all those whom the law does not prevent, can meet and come out with suggestions, as the situation is not very palpable".
The court's observation came as Rohatgi said "the government would come to the negotiation table only if the legally recognised stakeholders participate in the dialogue and not with the separatist elements who rake up the issue of accession or Azadi in Kashmir."
The top court asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association, Srinagar, to come up with suggestions to resolve the crisis, including the stone-pelting and violent street protests in the Kashmir Valley.
It told the bar, which has sought ban on use of pellet guns to quell the agitating mob, to take "first steps" of bringing all stakeholders on the table for workable suggestions to overcome the crisis.
The apex court also took exception to the stand of the bar that it cannot vouch for all stakeholders and could only speak on behalf of lawyers by telling it that "you cannot take such a stand when you have come here".
A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar made it clear that the next step would come only if the bar comes out with workable suggestions and posted the matter for further hearing on May 9.
While the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, was persuading the lawyer's body to ensure that there should not be any street agitation and stone pelting, the attorney general objected to the stand taken by the bar for involving the separatist elements in the talks.
Rohatgi read out the part of the affidavit in which the bar association has raised questions about accession of Kashmir and giving a political colour to the matter by mentioning names of some separatist leaders who were under house arrest.
"The case of the bar here is different but he (lawyers for bar) talks about Geelani and separatists. What is this going on? Ten times he says release them...," the attorney general said as the bench interrupted him and clarified it has not accepted or entertained such arguments for pre-conditions for dialogue.
"Did we agree", the bench once again told the top law officer when he repeated the submission made by the bar body.
"We can't give any commitment about the talks. It's just a proxy war. At one hand he says he does not vouch for all others and on the other hand he wants withdrawal of security forces and goes to the extent of saying that all elections (in the state) are rigged. They say we catch and kill people. We are not attacking our people. You say I (bar body) am an interlocutor but also say you cannot vouch for everyone," Rohatgi said.
The attorney general said the process of a dialogue would take place only in accordance with the rules and "if the rules allow, then the separatists can be released and if not, they won't be".
He also made it clear that politics cannot be allowed as the talks to bring normalcy in the Valley was going on at the highest level between Prime Minister and J&K Chief Minister.
"The Chief Minister is with the Prime Minister, what further dialogue is required? The Prime Minister has invited the Chief Minister. She (Mehbooba Mufti) is their CM," he
Carpet bomb Valley to stop terrorists, says Togadia
Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Pravin Togadia on Friday demanded that the government carry out "carpet bombing" in Kashmir Valley to stop the attacks on security forces by militants. "After attacks on Army camps in Uri and Kupwara, our government should carry out carpet bombing in Kashmir Vally area to stop such attacks. The attacks on Army camps and the incidents of stone-pelting should be considered as a war and the government should carpet bomb these areas," Togadia said on the sidelines of an event here on the occasion of Lord Parshuram Jayanti. He said hostility between the civilians and Army personnel was on the rise in Kashmir.