Evolve a common ground

Print edition : December 14, 2012

Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami.-NISSAR AHMAD

Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA, Kulgam:

Kashmiri youth need to have some kind of a relationship with their brethren in the rest of the country. There is a realisation that violence is not an option. Alternatives should be found through debate and discussion. I do not agree that until the issue of self-determination is resolved, everything else can wait.

The application of self-determination matters, but in a context. Today in Jammu and Kashmir it means two things. It means disintegration on communal lines. There should be no bifurcation or trifurcation. Life cannot wait. Issues affecting the common people need to be addressed.

While making serious efforts to find a solution acceptable to all stakeholders, genuine concerns of the common man should be taken up. Not a single week passes without a protest on issues like employment, price rise, and reduction in the supply of LPG cylinders. For those who say these things can wait, it is like giving a sanction to the state to continue doing whatever it wants to.

The level of unemployment has reached alarming proportions and deserves immediate attention with policy initiatives, institutional arrangements and operational strategies. Successive governments have time and again failed to take measures to cope with this problem. With the number of registered unemployed youth crossing the six-lakh mark, Jammu and Kashmir has an unemployment rate of 5.3 per cent; compared with that of its four neighbouring States, this is the highest. If we include those who are either uneducated or have not registered their names with these centres, the number will be manifold.

In the budget session this year, I had asked for particulars of persons officially declared as missing till date, the number of cases in which FIRs had been registered, the action taken to trace disappeared persons till date and details of cases in which compensation had been paid. The reply was that information was being collected and would be placed in the Budget session. It did not happen. I also enquired whether a survey had been conducted to ascertain the number of widows/orphans as a consequence of such disappearances, and if so, the steps taken to rehabilitate them. I was told that no such survey had been conducted.

However, in 2007-08, the Rehabilitation Council of the Social Welfare Department conducted a survey of widows, orphans and handicapped persons rendered so by militancy-related incidents. As per the survey, the number of widows, orphans and handicapped is 36,600. Financial assistance is being provided to them in the form of pension, scholarship and marriage assistance.

In the October session, I again asked for particulars of those officially declared missing until July 2012 and the FIRs registered, action taken to trace the disappeared persons, compensation paid to the victims, number of women rendered widows as a result of the disappearance of their husbands until March 2012 and whether the government was thinking of providing compensation to such victims. I was told that as per the inputs furnished by the District Development Commissioners concerned, 2,305 persons had been declared missing; FIRs had been registered in 182 cases, while missing reports/complaints had been lodged in most of the remaining cases. Ex-gratia relief has been paid in 729 cases, benefit of compassionate appointment has been given in 58 cases and cash in lieu of government jobs has been paid in 65 cases. All-out efforts are being made by the agencies concerned to trace the missing persons.

I was also told that the issue regarding the rehabilitation of wives and children of the missing persons had been deliberated upon in the meeting of the State Rehabilitation Council held under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister on August 7, 2012, wherein it had been decided to initiate an exercise to determine the exact number of missing persons, half-widows and their children/dependants, before taking a decision on their rehabilitation.

While separatist voices cannot be ignored, the mainstream voices also have to be considered. We have to evolve a common ground, and independent voices that are not influenced by internal or external considerations have to emerge. Let us identify certain common issues without trying to give up our ideological and political positions. As a party, we were the first to demand the removal of the AFSPA and PSA [Public Safety Act]. I have been a victim of the PSA myself; it used to be called the Preventive Detention Act earlier.

A delegation of the CPI(M), led by general secretary Prakash Karat, met President Pranab Mukherjee on November 17 regarding the harassment of Muslim youth in the country. No doubt, there is harassment by security forces and the police. There is sufficient evidence to prove that. We identified 22 cases which were backed by proper documents. The case of Amir of Delhi is sad. He could not get his job back despite being exonerated by the courts. This creates an environment that frightens the rest.

As told to T. K. Rajalakshmi
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