Kashmiris urge pullout of Indian troops before 'talks'

Kashmiris urged New Delhi to pull out troops, release prisoners and end human rights violations before "resuming talks".

Kashmiris urge pullout of Indian troops before 'talks'

Kashmiris urged New Delhi to pull out troops, release prisoners and end human rights violations before resuming talks aimed at a solution to the decades-old problem in the Himalayan region.

Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said earlier this month New Delhi will reach out to every section of political opinion in the region through "quiet dialogue, quiet diplomacy".

New Delhi has not fixed a timeline for the dialogue or said how it will take place.

Kashmir's moderate and main pro-independent alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference listed on Sunday what it called "confidence building measures ... to make the dialogue result-oriented".

"Before starting dialogue process India should demilitarise the region, repeal draconian laws, stop human rights violations, allow peaceful protests, release all the prisoners unconditionally...," the Hurriyat said in a statement.

An influenced pro-independent leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani denounced Chidambaram's latest offer for talks and has demanded tripartite talks between India, Pakistan and Kashmiris.

Call for strike

The Kashmiris have called for a two day-strike from Tuesday to mark the 62nd anniversary of New Delhi's rule over the region, and protest a proposed visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Hurriyat statement came a day after the killing of a 25-year-old man in a latest move local residents say committed by the Indian army, which sparked protests in Kashmir where anti-India protests have been rising.

The army has denied the charge and authorities have ordered a probe into the killing.

Indian security forces have been accused in the past of human rights violations, including rape and extrajudicial killings. Authorities deny any systematic violations and say all reports are investigated and the guilty punished.

Kashmiri groups and parties have long demanded the withdrawal of Indian troops and scrapping of "anti-terrorism" laws, including the Armed Forces Special Powers Act that gives sweeping powers to security forces in Kashmir, where about 500,000 troops are stationed.

The Hurriyat, which said it has not yet received a formal offer from New Delhi for new talks, began a dialogue with New Delhi in 2004, the first between the two sides since an armed revolt demanding independence began in 1989.

Tens of thousands have been killed since. Officials say there are more than 2,500 political prisoners in Kashmir.

The last round of talks was held in May 2006. Prime Minister Singh and the Hurriyat agreed then to establish a system to discuss solutions to the dispute over Kashmir, dating from the partition of the Indian subcontinent in the late 1940s.

Kashmiris won freedom from British rule in 1947. In 1948, the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for a referendum for Kashmir to determine whether the Himalayan region should be part of India and Pakistan. But India has rejected to hold referendum in Kashmiri territory.

Kashmiris see India as an "occupier" and accuse the ruling of systematic violations, killing dozens of civilians in Himalayan region.


Reuters
Last Mod: 27 Ekim 2009, 10:46
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