A meeting of the Indian government and opposition parties to resolve spiralling protests in occupied Kashmir ended in a deadlock on Wednesday, even as five more protesters were killed in police clashes.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting came two days after 18 people were killed in the worst single episode of violence in two decades of violent rebellion against Indian rule and are the latest in a three-month long series of protests.
The meeting failed to agree on a partial lifting of a widely-hated law that gives the army immunity from prosecution in case of civilian killings in the occupied region. The only decision taken was to send a delegation of politicians to Kashmir.
“Obviously it’s a deadlock,” said Ajai Sahni, head of the Institute for Conflict Management think tank. “But then what did you expect? Nothing could have come out of it. Is there anything they could have said that would make people say let’s end this?”
The government has largely painted the protesters as inspired by Pakistan-based militant groups but Singh on Wednesday appeared to signal a slight shift in opinion, hinting that some of the demonstrators may be inspired by local grievances.
“While some of these protests may have been impulsive or spontaneous, it cannot be denied that some incidents were orchestrated by certain groups,” Singh said.
“What we have seen over the past three months must persuade us to reflect and deliberate on the way forward. We have to talk to each other.”
Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani denounced the outcome of the meeting as “cosmetic,” and called for Indian troops to leave the state.
“We will intensify our struggle if India does not accept our demands,” the hardline leader said.
Bharatiya Janata Party reiterated its stand of opposing autonomy for the state or diluting the law on immunity for security forces.