SRINAGAR: Politicians in Indian Kashmir on Monday urged the state’s government to hold an independent inquiry into the recent unrest that has left 15 civilians dead and locked down the region for weeks.
Members of most of the parties in the state assembly met to discuss how to end weeks of deadly street protests against security forces, as the region was shut for a second day by a strike called by anti-India separatists.
“The all-party meeting urged the state government to have an independent inquiry conducted to ascertain the circumstances leading to the death of the civilians,” Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told reporters at the end of the talks in Srinagar, Indian Kashmir’s summer capital.
Indian troops have been struggling to control demonstrations in the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley after being accused of killing 15 civilians – many of them teenagers – since the first death, of a 17-year-old, on June 11.
The parties expressed “deep anguish at the unfortunate loss of life during recent disturbances and appealed to the state to consider adequate relief in favour of the families of the deceased,” Abdullah said.
The parties, with the exception of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party, also appealed to the people to help the state government restore peace and normalcy, he said. Authorities lifted a rigid curfew on Sunday across Kashmir after an uneasy calm returned to the major towns, but all activity ground to a halt after separatists called a strike.
“The parties also urged upon the government of India to strengthen the ongoing peace process, and both internal and external dialogue,” Abdullah said, referring to dialogue with Pakistani and Kashmiri separatists.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2010.