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India pushing Kashmiri youth towards gun: Separatist leader

Srinagar: The Indian government is denying political space to separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir which can lead to “dangerous consequences”, separatist leader Muhammad Yasin Malik said on Wednesday.

“The Indian government has choked space for dissent in Kashmir. It can push the Kashmiri youth towards an armed struggle again, even on a bigger scale than of 1990s,” he warned as he began his 30-hour hunger strike here.

The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman said police is “abusing” agitating youths and their family members because of which the situation can deteriorate further.

“Youth are arrested randomly during night raids. They are tortured in custody and their family members humiliated.

“Police and paramilitary forces use bullets, teargas shells and pellets to disperse even peaceful protests. You (government) are leaving no scope for youths to express their dissent. It will force youth to pick up gun again,” Malik said.

He said his hunger strike was to “safeguard the non-violent democratic movement of Kashmir”.

“Since 2008, Kashmiris have shown transition from violent to non-violent mode of struggle. Instead of acknowledging this peaceful change and resolving the Kashmir issue, the government is using force to kowtow people here into submission,” he claimed.

On the visit of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Pakistan to push for better India-Pakistan ties, he said that the process can’t yield positive results without involving Kashmiris.

“What can one expect from such talks when Kashmiris who are prime stakeholders aren’t involved in decision making,” Malik questioned.

He said that without Kashmir and Kashmiris, India-Pakistan relations would continue to remain affected and believed the visit of Swaraj was due to “nudge from the US and other powers”.