The government on Friday told the Supreme Court it was not interested to hold negotiations with separatists to resolve the Kashmir crisis, reported PTI. The court was hearing a petition filed by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association that alleged that the Centre was not eager to initiate dialogue and discussion. In its plea, the associated had also appealed against the use of pump action guns in the state.
Refuting the allegations, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told the bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justices DY Chandrachud and SK Kaul that the Centre would only speak to recognised political parties in Jammu and Kashmir. The attorney general also cited the recent meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti during which the two leaders decided that peace talks could only be held in a conducive atmosphere.
The bench then asked the bar association to suggest ways to restore normalcy in the Valley. The top court said the association could play an “important role” by designing a gameplan and a roadmap to resolve the situation. The court will take up the matter for further hearing on May 9.
Simultaneously, the bench told the Centre that it would close the file if the government felt that there was no role for the court. “If you feel the court has no role and if you feel we have no jurisdiction, we will close the file at this moment,” the judges told the Rohatgi.
During its earlier hearing on April 10, the Centre had informed the Supreme Court that pump action guns were used on protestors in Jammu and Kashmir as a last resort. The government also said that it was developing new rubber bullets to deal with stone-pelters in the Valley. In May, the top court had given the Centre two weeks’ time to present alternatives to pump action guns, popularly called pellet guns, on agitating mobs in Jammu and Kashmir.
After that, the Union Home Ministry had set up a panel in August that had suggested pump action guns be replaced with shells containing Pelargonic Acid Vanillyl Amide. In September 2016, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had rejected the ban on pump action guns for crowd control in the state. “What kind of force has to be used at the relevant point of time, or in a given situation/place, has to be decided by persons in charge of the place [of attack],” the high court had said.
Kashmir has been on the boil since July 2016. Scores of people have been killed and thousands injured ever since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was gunned down by security forces. Violence again erupted earlier this month during the Assembly bye-elections in Srinagar. The Indian Army has faced severe criticism for injuring hundreds of people with the “non-lethal” pump action gun during protests in July last year.