World Bulletin / News Desk
A high-level Indian delegation visited the disputed Kashmir valley Sunday amid heavy pro-independence protests that left hundreds injured.
While the delegation of 28 Indian lawmakers met with representatives of pro-India political parties, the influential pro-independence leadership boycotted the delegation.
In a joint statement, the leadership's figureheads -- Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar and Yasin Malik -- said they could not see a purpose in meeting the delegation, which had "not spelled out its mandate for any engagement on a clear agenda."
“These deceitful methods of crisis management through parliamentary delegations...can't take the place of a genuine transparent agenda-based dialogue to address the core issue of the people's right to self-determination in Jammu and Kashmir,” the statement said.
The lawmakers had been hoping to meet the leaders, who have been imprisoned or put under house arrest over the last two months, to convince them to call of a 58-day shutdown.
While the delegation spoke about restoring "normalcy" to the streets after two months of deadly clashes, many Kashmiris said India needed to recognize their political demands.
“Who disrupted our so called peace and normalcy? We did it ourselves,” Ishtiyaq Ahmad Sofi, a regular protestor in regional capital Srinagar told Anadolu Agency. “And why? Because it is not the peace we want. It is occupation, slavery. They want us to stop our struggle and restore the normalcy on their terms without engaging, without responding to our genuine political demands.”
Away from the highly-secured delegation in Srinagar, tens of thousands gathered for pro-independence protests in south Kashmir. According to hospitals across Kashmir, around 400 people were injured in firing by Indian security forces.
At least 73 Kashmiri Muslims have been killed and over 8,400 wounded since July 8 in firing by the Indian armed forces on the pro-Independence uprising.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.
The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in IHK have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far, most of them by the Indian Armed forces. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed regions.