To restore calm in Jammu and Kashmir, the government should reach
out to people and hold talks with the agitating Kashmiris, Chief
Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said Wednesday.
"Not just Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, but other ministers and top
officials should contact people at the grassroots level and hear
their agony as this was one of the best ways of governance,
especially in difficult times," Habibullah said in an interactive
session with women journalists here.
Habibullah, who has also written books on the Kashmir conflict, said
that the probelms in the Valley can be easily resolved if the state
government approaches the agitators and talks to them.
"They can't afford to be afraid of their own people in a democratic
set-up," he stressed.
Talking about the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act which gives
legal immunity to security personnel in case of damage during
operations, he said "as of now it is not serving any important
Habibullah said most of the youngsters in the valley get drawn into
agitations because they are deprived of a normal life unlike other
youngsters across the country.
"They are denied of normal life like walking on streets with a
mobile phone, access to internet and most of them feel like they are
cut off from rest of the country. Extremist elements make them feel
so. This condition should be changed," he said.
He added that the situation can change only when the central and
state governments hold talks with the people of the valley in a
sincere and dedicated manner.
"The army should stay in the barracks, the people of valley who had
army influence throughout their life should feel that they are not
part of an occupied territory but part of India," Habibullah said.
Replying to a question on the murder of a right to information (RTI)
activist, he said: "We have urged the government to take action
against such incidents and to safeguard RTI activists."