Opposition parties in Kashmir which met in Srinagar on Wednesday decided to approach President Pranab Mukherjee to apprise him of the situation in the Valley and demanded a probe by a retired Supreme Court judge into allegations of excessive use of force by security personnel.
"We have decided to seek time from the President to apprise him about the real ground situation in Kashmir."
"We will try to persuade the (Union) government to take steps that will at least help in improving the situation in the Valley," National Conference working president Omar Abdullah told reporters here after the meeting at his residence.
He said the delegation of opposition parties will go to Delhi to press for a dialogue with all stakeholders and added that blaming Pakistan for everything that goes wrong in Kashmir was not the right approach.
The meeting was attended by several Congress leaders including JKPCC chief G A Mir, CPI(M) MLA from Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Independent MLAs Hakim Mohammad Yasin and Sheikh Abdul Rashid and former minister Ghulam Hassan Mir.
Omar said the opposition parties have demanded an inquiry by a retired Supreme Court judge into the allegations of excessive force by security forces while dealing with protestors. They will also seek a special session of the Assembly to discuss the situation.
"Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in her speech on August 15 has herself said that some elements in security forces did not follow her instructions (of exercising maximum restraint).
"So this is an opportune time for a judicial inquiry headed by a retired Supreme Court judge," he said.
The former chief minister said all the opposition parties were worried about youths getting killed and injured in security forces' firing, while the state and the central governments "mishandled" the situation.
"We are also worried that the political nature of Jammu and Kashmir has neither been accepted nor understood.
"When it has not been accepted, it is implied that no efforts have been made to find a solution to it," he said.
Omar said Kashmir is a political issue which needs to be addressed politically.
"The first step is to admit and recognise the anger and then take steps to address it.
"So far that has not happened. The All-Party Meeting chaired by the Prime Minister (on August 12) happened because Parliament was in session and it was the opposition's initiative that brought the issue twice for discussion.
"Otherwise, we would not have heard anything from the government," he said.
Asked about the Centre raising the Balochistan issue, Omar said his personal view was that efforts should be focused on setting "our own house in order".
"You (Centre) want to rake up Balochistan, by all means do it but there is a fire burning in Kashmir. It also should be addressed," he said.
On Pakistan's role, Omar said, "While Pakistan has a habit of fishing in troubled waters, I do not think the present situation is because of it.
"If we believe that Pakistan is behind all this, it means that we do not have to do anything to set things right," he added.
"As far as dialogue (with Pakistan) is concerned, we have been votaries of dialogue for resolution. Jammu and Kashmir was made an issue between India and Pakistan way back in 1970s with the Simla Agreement.
"We believe Pakistan as our neighbour is a country that needs to be talked to... And it is something Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done in the past," Omar said.
Referring to the firing incident in Magam yesterday that left four persons dead, Omar said, "We have to see why an area which did not give any trouble for 40 days has suddenly erupted.
"Wanton arrests have been effected, cases are being filed (against the youth). PSA is being slapped on them.
"It seems a reaction is being induced and it is the result of these actions that peaceful areas are now becoming part of the agitation," he said.
On the use of pellet guns as crowd control weapon, Omar said all parties have spoken against it.
"The issue has figured in Parliament as well but for some reason, it's use is not stopped."
In response to a question, Omar said the idea of Kashmir being an integral part of the country should not be limited to its land only.
"The people of Kashmir have to be owned. It is mind-boggling that a far lesser agitation in Gujarat had no lesser a person that the Prime Minister addressing that state in Gujarati from Delhi because he owned the people.
"Why is that we don't get owned? Why is it that our anger does not get owned?" he asked.
Asked if the opposition parties will demand resignation of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and her government, Omar said it was not about the chair.
"We have not demanded resignation because it would seem we want to be in the chair. It is not about the chair, it is about saving the future generation of Kashmir....
"It is about the eight-year-olds, the ten-year-olds and the 12-year-olds who are out on the streets," he said.
Omar said the opposition will act responsibly and contribute towards improving the situation.
Asked if today's meeting will bear any fruit, Omar said the mainstream opposition parties were as relevant today as they were before the start of the current agitation.
"If you are saying that we are irrelevant today, then Hurriyat Conference should be irrelevant during normalcy.
"But the fact is that neither are we irrelevant today, no are the Hurriyat during the times of normalcy," he added.
He said the opposition parties' delegation will go to Delhi and press for a dialogue with all stakeholders.
"He( Modi) has made unscheduled visit to Lahore and recently our Home Minister visited Islamabad.
"The dialogue has continued and we hope the dialogue continues but for the dialogue to work, both sides have to be interested.
"Therefore I hope both the countries, India and Pakistan, should take requisite steps to improve the environment so that dialogue is possible," he said.
Omar said that political parties have been supporters of dialogue with Pakistan.
"Be it Atal Behari Vajpayee's dialogue with Pakistan, the Manmohan Singh dialogue or the Narendra Modi dialogue with Pakistan, we believe that dialogue is the only way forward."
Replying to another query, he said, "I cannot see a war like situation. There is a lot of tension in relations between the two countries and it is the resposibility of the two nations to reduce the tension.
"It is not as if there has been no war between India and Pakistan. We have fought more than three wars but nothing has been achieved."
Omar said the opposition parties will demand a special session of the state Assembly so that a threadbare discussion on the current situation can be held.
"If Parliament can pass resolution on Jammu and Kashmir, I see no reason why an Assembly session cannot be called and all of us cannot put forward resolutions with regard to Jammu and Kashmir," he said.