India’s offer to release hundreds of young detainees and review the massive deployment of security forces in Indian-held territory to defuse deadly civil unrest drew on Sunday mixed reaction from Kashmiri politicians. As the Kashmiri leadership struggling to win independence for the disputed territory or its merger with Pakistan rejected the offer, the region’s main opposition party said the Indian decision was a step forward but needed a broader political initiative to make progress in the long term. At least 107 people, mostly teenage boys and young men in their 20s, have died in a crackdown by security forces on demonstrations since June, with every death stoking public anger and more protests. Authorities relaxed a rigid curfew for several hours on Sunday in Srinagar and seven other towns following a pause in the unrest. Thousands of people crowded markets to stock up on food and other essentials. The mountainous region is divided between India and Pakistan and claimed by both. Protesters reject Indian rule and want independence or a merger with Pakistan. India offered on Saturday to release detainees and review deployment of security forces, and to hold talks with all stake-holders in the part of Kashmir it holds. The steps “should address the concerns of different sections of people, including protesters,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said. New Delhi’s proposal follows a visit to Kashmir by about 40 lawmakers from major Indian political parties to seek ways to end the turmoil. India has also offered compensation of 500,000 rupees ($10,800) to each of the families of those killed since June 11. All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said India’s initiative was inadequate because all parties were not being consulted. “Our focus is on the resolution of the Kashmir dispute. New Delhi’s latest initiative is not going to change anything in that relation as the dispute involves three parties, Kashmiris, India and Pakistan,” Mr Farooq said. He urged India and Pakistan to set up Kashmir committees made up of lawmakers that could work to resolve the Kashmir issue by involving the Hurriyat leaders. Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a top leader who is spearheading the “Quit Kashmir” campaign against Indian rule, said: “The so-called political package by New Delhi is a time-gaining exercise, unrealistic and mere eyewash.” “India is wrongly mistaken if it thinks it can buy peace in Kashmir by releasing a few students and paying ex-gratia relief to the families of martyrs,” Mr Geelani said. Naeem Akhtar, spokesman for Kashmir’s main opposition People’s Democratic Party, said: “This (the Indian offer) could make a good beginning if it is followed up seriously with larger political initiative ... whether it brings some relief to the people remains to be seen.” Past failures in talks between New Delhi and Kashmiri leaders have only added to an air of distrust in the region. “This is just like adding salt to the wounds of Kashmir when there is nothing in terms of resolution of the (Kashmir) dispute,” Musdiq Khan, a 35-year-old paediatrician said. “First they kill Kashmiris and later offer money for the dead. Their attitude is inhuman and deplorable.” But some are willing to give the Indian offer a try. “Indians could have done much more. But let us be positive and I hope sanity will prevail on all sides and bring an end to our miseries,” said 40-year-old Shugufta Khan, whose nephew was killed by police during a protest last month.—Agencies
By: Dawn News