Srinagar, Oct 16: The caravan for mobilizing support for revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir and North Eastern states was flagged off on Sunday here by noted civil rights activists Medha Patekar and Dr Sandeep Pandey. While Patekar pitched for political resolution of the Kashmir issue, Pandey said Kashmiris should be given the right to self-determination to decide their fate.
About 24 civil society activists from different parts of India started their 4500-km journey as part of “Save (Irom) Sharmila Solidarity Campaign” from Pratap Park here this evening amid anti-AFSPA, anti-forces and pro-freedom slogans. The caravan will end its journey on October 27 after passing through 10 states, at Jawahar Lal Nehru hospital Imphal where Irom Sharmilla is being nasally fed.
Speaking on the occasion, noted civil rights activist,associated with Narmada Bachao Andolan and core member of Anna Hazare’s team, Medha Patekar said that Kashmir is a political problem and can be resolved through negoiations.
“But first AFSPA needs to be repealed. It is an inhuman law and should be revoked from all parts of the country. The solution to problems can be found within the purview of constitution as there are number of options for it,” she said, adding that continuance of this law triggers violence.
“We denounce all kinds of violence and we don’t want Army rule in J&K or other parts of India. There are unlawful killings, disappearances and arbitrary arrests in the areas where this law is in vogue,” she said.
Medha said different panels including interlocutors on Kashmir had recommended its revocation from J&K. “But nothing happened,” she said.
She said they are in Kashmir to share the sufferings of the people of J&K.
Calling for formation of a commission for probing disappearance cases in the state, she said: “If there are 7000-10000 disappeared cases, why can’t they be located. Till political will eludes, we have to fight non-violently for the cause. We will fight for upholding people’s sovereignty whether it is an issue of corruption or injustice.”
Medha said Anna Hazare’s 11-day struggle shook the entire country “but Irom Sharmila is on fast for 11 years, so why the political leadership is indifferent to her cause.”
Asked about differences between Anna team and Prashant Bushan on Kashmir, she said: “It is all creation of media.”
Ramon Magsaysay award winner Dr Sandeep Pandey said people of Jammu and Kashmir should be given right to self determination to decide their future.
“We support the RSD demand whether it is for the people of J&K, North East or fight in Chattisgarh and Jharkhand for their resources,” he said.
About Anna Hazare’s remarks that Kashmir is an integral part of India, he said: “If Anna talks of Gram Swaraj then according to this phiolosphy, villagers are ultimate authorities to decide their issues including land acquisition. So people of Kashmir have right to decide their fate.”
He said remarks of Prashant Bushan that Kashmiris should be given plebiscite to decide their future is in consonance with Gram Sawarjya concept.
Member Assembly Langate Er. Rashid demanded complete withdrawal of the AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir.
“Selective repealing of the Act is noting but rubbing salt on wounds of people. We have been hearing about its revocation for the past one year but nothing has happened on ground,” he said, adding that Kashmiris salute the resolve of Irom Sharmila.
J&K RTI Movement Convener Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat said all the controversial laws including AFSPA, DAA and PSA should be revoked to give respite to Kashmiris from the “reign of terror”.
Tanveer Ahmad of ANHAD said the laws like AFSPA must go.
Among others Praveena Ahangar chairperson of Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, Anjum Zamruda Habib, Faisal Khan of National Alliance for Peoples Movement, Ravi Nitesh and prominent civil society activist Irfan Hafiz Lone were also present at the flag off ceremony.