Centre says willing to hold talks with any Kashmiri group

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 18:50

New Delhi: Government today expressed its
willingness to hold talks with "any group" from the Kashmir
Valley wishing to come forward amid indications that it would
be soon coming out with a series of measures to address the
issue.

"We hope to restart the dialogue process. We will talk
to any group, any political party which is willing to talk to
us," Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters while
presenting a report card of his ministry for the month of
August.

He was replying to questions on whether the Centre would
kick-start political process of a dialogue with groups
especially the separatists with violence showing signs of
decline.

The Home Minister made it clear that the Central
government was willing to talk to all sections of people in
Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources in the Government have also indicated that a
high-level meeting was scheduled in the next few days during
which the Centre, in consultation with the state Government,
will come out with specific measures to address some issues
which may bring relief to the people of the state.

This includes relocation of security forces, employment
package for militants, who have served their sentences and
were unemployed, and a fresh surrender policy.

In a related development, J&K Chief Minister Omar
Abdullah, who is in the national capital, also met the Home
Minister and discussed the situation in the state.

During the meeting, Omar emphasised that the situation
in the state should not be seen only as a law and order
problem and that political initiatives should be taken at the
earliest, sources said.

The Chief Minister urged Chidambaram to take steps
in this direction at the earliest like amendments to Armed
Forces Special Powers Act and announcing an employment
package for its five lakh unemployed youths besides an
employment package for surrendered and released militants, the
sources said.

Omar said the time was ripe for the Centre to implement
its assurance of having a political approach on Kashmir as
stated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Home Minister
himself on the floor of the Parliament, the sources said.

Earlier, Chidambaram was asked about his statement
at the conference of Directors General and Inspectors General
of Police that the dialogue would be started in "few days".

"I can`t give a date. Few days means few
days...Government hopes that it will be able to re-start the
process of dialogue in the near future," he said.

Asked to comment on BJP`s policy on Kashmir which has
been demanding the scrapping of Article 370 in the
Constitution that guarantees special status to the state,
Chidambaram said the principal opposition party`s policy on
Jammu and Kashmir was well known.

"Government`s policy on the state has been stated in
more than one occasions by the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh)
and by me too. There are obviously differences between BJP and
the UPA," he said.

The Home Minister said the UPA government had already
declared its Kashmir policy and it would continue to pursue
that policy. "We will pursue the policy we have declared and
we believe that that policy is a right policy. It will bring
in peace and order in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

-PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 - 18:50

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