Repeal Draconian Laws in Kashmir: Interlocutor

Srinagar, June 25: One of the three interlocutors on Kashmir appointed by the Government of India has demanded repeal of what he termed draconian laws such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act and Public Safety Act (PSA) in the region.

Talking to a Delhi-based newspaper, Business Standard, interlocutor M M Ansari said, “Indian government should review and withdraw the draconian laws such as AFSPA (giving special powers to Indian soldiers) and PSA in Kashmir. Such harsh laws should be sparingly used to contain violence”.

He said the police, paramilitary and army soldiers should use non-lethal weapons of crowd control such as tear gas, water canon, etc. “The government should allow peaceful agitations, processions and demonstrations, which are permissible in a democratic society. The police and security men ought to improve their image in the eyes of the general public through proactive friendly measures to remove the fear of harassment,” he said.

Asked whether proposals put forward by them will be implemented by the Indian government, Ansari said, “It is difficult to speculate at this stage whether our report would be acceptable to all the concerned stakeholders. The Kashmir issue is very complex and is compounded by many pulls and pressures of political parties in New Delhi as well as Kashmir levels. Unless all the major parties agree to a negotiated settlement and evolve a consensus in the interest of securing peace in the region, it would be difficult to achieve the goal of resolving the issue. We hope to produce a draft outline, based on inputs from opinion makers, which should facilitate the process of a political settlement.”