Centre didn’t press checks and balances while handling situation: Cong

Srinagar:Congress today criticised the Centre for not pressing “checks and balances” available to it while handling the violent protests in Kashmir Valley and said while the security personnel were under pressure, the use of “disproportionate and excessive” force should be avoided.

A two-member Congress team, comprising party leaders Ambika Soni and Salman Khurshid, which is in the Valley to take stock of the situation, urged the central government to call an all-party meeting to discuss steps to deal with the situation even as it appealed to the people to maintain peace, saying their is no other answer but dialogue to any problem.

“The situation in Kashmir is very serious. We are pained by it. The Congress President, in her message, has expressed sympathies with the families of the victims of the violence,” Soni told reporters.

She said her party does not want to indulge in politics but is lending support for restoration of normalcy in the Valley.

“We have also decided to send medicines, baby food and other essentials for the people here,” she said.

Soni lamented that in the last 10 days, the Prime Minister had held a meeting on the situation only once. “The Chief Minister (Mehbooba Mufti) was not present there and it is also not in public knowledge as to what steps has the government taken,” she said.

“Our party feels that the first thing to do in such a situation is to call an all-party meet so that all of us discuss the steps to be taken to stop this unnecessary, unfortunate violence and restore normal life,” she said.

Stressing the need for providing best possible treatment to those injured in the violence, she said, “We know that many people, including small children, have been blinded by pellets. UPA had proposed to use rubber pellets so that there is no lasting effect.

“Our people have informed us that there is no space in hospitals. Isn’t it the duty of the government to airlift such patients immediately to Chandigarh, Amritsar or Delhi.”

Khurshid said, “Our understanding is that disproportionate and excessive force is being used. But at the same time, men who serve in these conditions are also under tremendous stress.

“The world over you know that when you are constantly under pressure, apprehensions, fear of attacks…You won’t say that people in paramilitary forces have not lost their lives in Jammu and Kashmir. They have, so we cannot be completely insensitive to young men who come here to protect the country but that doesn t give them the freedom to kill at will.”

“In any system in the world, there are safety checks and balances…there are safeguards. Right now, the safeguards have all disappeared. (Even) one person killed is one too many. But we know as a fact, agitations happen, people are killed, there are inquiries,” he said.

Voicing concern over reports of pellet injuries, Khurshid said “excessive force is absolutely unacceptable”.

He said the style of the central government is “not to talk to anyone, but there is a need to talk to everyone in Kashmir”. .