(London Post) : – British parliamentarians urge for break of deadlock on Kashmir amid Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom. In a letter written to the Prime Minister David Cameron chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group Andrew Griffiths MP asked prime minister to intervene and use his offices to resolve the long standing issue.
Text of the letter below.
Rt Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street
9th November, 2015
We write as members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kashmir in anticipation of the arrival of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. We feel strongly that this visit presents an invaluable opportunity to break though the political deadlock that currently exists regarding Kashmir, and to begin a dialogue which will result in the freedom and democracy which its inhabitants were promised and deserve. We therefore ask you to raise the following six issues with Mr Modi, which we believe are of particular importance.
First, there are approximately 550,000 Indian troops in the region of Kashmir administered from New Delhi. We call for the withdrawal of all such forces are currently posted in the region’s cities, although we accept the political reality that some troops may need to remain on the Line of Control.
Second, we join the UN and countless human rights organisations in asking for the repeal of the armed forces’ special powers, or ‘Black Laws’, which empower Indian military and paramilitary soldiers to use force with impunity, and to detain civilians without proper cause. These laws are an affront to the natural justice, and bring misery into the lives of those affected.
Thirdly, we believe that pressure should be applied towards the release of the thousands of Kashmiri political prisoners, many of whom have been imprisoned under the aforementioned Black Laws without charge or trial. The plight of these activists has also been raised vociferously by Amnesty International. We request that a timetable for their release is discussed with the Prime Minister.
Fourthly, we would ask you to raise the possibility of removing all travel restrictions which prevent members of civic society from moving about the country. These restrictions are draconian, and damage both individuals and businesses within the region.
Fifthly, we believe that an investigation should take place into the mass graves which have been reported to exist from the time of Kashmir’s insurgency against Indian rule. It must
surely be possible for both sides to agree that the people who died in this conflict should be buried with proper reverence, rather than being shamefully heaped in the ground.
Finally, we are concerned about the lack of progress in finding a peaceful resolution to issues in Jammu . We believe that for a political solution to be reached requires dialogue. We urge you to persuade Prime Minister Modi to support a renewal of dialogue with the Kashmiri people and a road map for a peace process in the region. This would offer hope to all the peoples of Kashmir.
It has been almost seventy years since the UN called for a free and fair plebiscite to take place in Kashmir. This has yet to be granted. The Kashmiri diaspora in Britain believe it is right for the Prime Minister take a lead on this issue. You have supported referenda in Gibraltar, the Falkland Islands, and Scotland. You are granting the people of the United Kingdom a referendum on the European Union. It is evident that you recognise the fundamental right that people hold to self-determination. We ask you to put this case to the Indian premier. Overall, we hope that the forthcoming prime-ministerial visit is a success both for India and for the UK. But we hope too that it will be equally successful for the people of Kashmir who remain held under martial law, separated from their families by an arbitrary border, and denied their basic human right to decide their own destiny.
Thank you very much in advance for your assistance.
Andrew Griffiths MP
Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Kashmir Group