Srinagar, Feb 26 (IANS) Striking a common chord with the separatists, former chief minister and patron of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Saturday said the Jammu and Kashmir government must stop arresting youths on suspicion of stone pelting.
The PDP held an impressive rally in TRC Grounds in summer capital Srinagar which was addressed by Sayeed and other senior leaders of the party.
“On the pretext of rumours that there could be a repeat of last year’s summer unrest in the Valley in coming June, authorities have started a concerted campaign arresting the youths and other people here.
“Kashmir issue needs to be resolved, political prisoners must be released, youths arrested on suspicion of being stone pelters should be released and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) must be revoked.
“The army must be withdrawn from civilian areas. The prime minister must then hold a round-table conference where both the mainstream and the separatist politicians must be invited as part of the peace process,” Sayeed said at the rally.
He also said the confidence building measures demanded by the PDP and the separatist Hurriyat leaders had the same focal points.
Highlighting the achievements of his tenure as the chief minister from 2002 to 2005, Sayeed said it was during his rule that the special operations group (SOG) was disbanded and the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road re-opened.
“It was during our tenure that a congenial atmosphere was created for the India-Pakistan peace process to move forward which had been unfortunately reversed after the present National Conference-Congress coalition came to power here in 2009,” he said.
Sayeed also criticised the Indus Water Treaty, through which Pakistan can monitor the usage of the waters of Chenab, Indus and Jhelum on the Indian side.
“These rivers belong to the state and the right to use their waters for hydro-generation is one of the basic rights of the people here.
“We will always like to see the lands in Pakistan to remain fertile and lush green with crops, but the treaty has been discriminatory and unfair to the people of the state,” he said.
Dozens of vehicles had been engaged by the PDP to ferry supporters from rural areas to Srinagar city as a show of strength.