I-Day: PM offers talks to Kashmiris, Maoists

PM Manmohan Singh made the offer of talks while addressing the nation on the 64th Independence Day from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort.

Updated: Aug 16, 2010, 09:48 AM IST

New Delhi: In a firm message, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Sunday asked agitating Kashmiri youth to end violence, saying it would not benefit anyone even as he offered to carry forward the dialogue process within the framework of the state being an integral part of India.

Addressing the nation on the 64th Independence Day
against the backdrop of recent unrest in Kashmir, he said the
Indian democracy has the "generosity and flexibility" to
address concerns of any group.

In his 35-minute speech from the ramparts of historic Red
Fort, Singh said India is willing to resolve differences with
Pakistan through discussions but the dialogue cannot go far if
terrorism emanating from there does not end.

He also spoke about the "serious challenge" posed by
Naxalism to internal security and stressed the need for rising
above "personal and political interests" to deal with the
menace firmly through Centre-state cooperation. Making a fresh
offer for dialogue, the Prime Minister asked the Maoists to
abjure violence and come to the negotiating table.

Singh said the government was working to create a new and
prosperous India where everyone would have access to better
education, healthcare, food security and other benefits.

At the same time, the 77-year-old economist-Prime
Minister acknowledged that "high inflation" was hurting the
people, with poor being the worst affected, and said the
government was making every effort to control it.

Unfurling the national tricolour for the seventh
consecutive Independence Day and becoming the third Prime
Minister to do so after Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi,
Singh expressed regret over the loss of lives in the
two-month-long violence in Kashmir which has left over 50
people dead.

"The years of violence should now end. Such violence
would not benefit anyone," he said in his speech delivered in

Underlining that Kashmir is an "integral part of India",
Singh said, "Within this framework, we are ready to move
forward in any talks which would increase the partnership of
the common man in governance and also enhance their welfare."

He said the government is "ready to talk to every person
or group which abjures violence".

Recalling that he recently participated in a meeting
with political parties from Jammu and Kashmir, he said, "We
will endeavour to take this process forward."

He said the government wants to resolve all differences
with Pakistan but made it clear that the dialogue cannot go
far unless terrorism emanating from there ends.

"As far as Pakistan is concerned, we expect from them
that they would let their territory to be used for acts of
terrorism against India," he said at the function which was
attended by a host of leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia
Gandhi and BJP parliamentary party chairman L K Advani besides
ministerial colleagues and diplomats.

Noting that India has been emphasising this in all the
discussions with Pakistan, he said, "If this is not done, we
cannot progress far in our dialogue."