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  India   All India  29 Apr 2017  Govt to Supreme Court: Can’t talk to Kashmiri separatists

Govt to Supreme Court: Can’t talk to Kashmiri separatists

Published : Apr 29, 2017, 1:32 am IST
Updated : Apr 29, 2017, 1:51 am IST

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said recently the PM and the Chief Minister of the state held a meeting to discuss the situation.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Centre informed the Supreme Court on Friday that it cannot hold talks with Kashmiri separatists or with Pakistan, in a strong message to pro-freedom leaders in the Valley, where tension between civilians and security forces has spiked after a fresh wave of fatal clashes.

Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, the government’s top law officer, rejected the J&K high court bar association’s plea for a unilateral ceasefire and resumption of talks with separatist leaders such as Syed Shah Geelani.

Mr Rohatgi told the bench that there can be no talks with Pakistan or the separatists, and even the court cannot direct the government for holding talks with them.

The A-G said, “The counsel is saying that we should hold talks with Syed Geelani and other leaders. What is going on? What kind of dialogue with these separatist leaders is he talking about? I can’t have a dialogue. If he has to talk, he has to talk under the rules (Constitution),” he said.

The court immediately asked the A-G, “Did we say we will direct you? Did we agree? It was a suggestion within certain parameters.”

The A-G made his submissions before a three-judge bench when Chief Justice J.S. Khehar suggested suspension of the use of pellet guns in the Valley, provided there was a reciprocal assurance that there would be no violence and stone throwing from the other side.

The bench — also comprising justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Sanjay Kishan Kaul — was hearing a petition from the bar association against pellet guns’ use that “results in innocents being killed and several persons losing eyesight.”

The A-G drew the court’s attention to the association’s reply describing Kashmir’s accession to India as a “controversial instrument of accession.”

He asked the court “How can they (bar) say it is a controversial instrument of accession and the two countries — India and Pakistan — are killing people in Kashmir? Is he saying we should have dialogue with Pakistan?.”

Earlier, advocate Abdul Quayum, appearing for the bar association, blamed security forces for indulging in “unbridled violence”, and sought a direction from the court that the Centre be asked to hold “unilateral, uninterrupted, unconditional talks with all stakeholders in the state.”

However, the CJI immediately told him, “We can direct them (Centre) to suspend the use of pellet guns for two weeks, but you must assure that violence and stone pelting will stop.”

But the advocate refused to give any assurance saying he was only representing the bar. He and another bar counsel, Zafar Shah, repeatedly argued that unless security forces stopped use of pellet guns and other firearms against Kashmiri people, violence would continue unabated.

The association placed in the court photographs purportedly detailing alleged excesses on people — including children as young as five years old — carried out by security personnel.

Mr Quayum told the court that there was considerable peace in J&K when A.B. Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and similar efforts were made by the then PM Manmohan Singh. He said during the two regimes, the Centre had talks with “various stakeholders including Hurriyat leaders, Syed Shah Geelani and others.”

But since 2016, there has been a change in the government policy. “They are not going for any talks. They just want to use force by security forces and kill people,” the counsel argued.

However, the CJI asked the counsel “Why would anyone unnecessarily harass you? Both sides should be willing to talk. You (association) must come out with a roadmap and suggestions so that we can pass a direction within the framework of law.”

Justice Kaul, who hails from Kashmir, said “Students must get back to college and continue with education. There is so much unemployment in the state — the most worrying aspect. You must take steps to stop the violence.” The bench posted the case for further hearing on May 9.

Tags: supreme court, mukul rohatgi, kashmiri separatists
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi