Omar meets PM, demands political initiatives in Kashmir

J&K CM Omar Abdullah stressed on the need to end the “cycle of violence” in the state.

Updated: Aug 02, 2010, 21:40 PM IST

New Delhi: Getting the backing of the Centre,
J and K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said political
initiatives were required to deal with the situation in the
Kashmir valley but made it clear there should be some
semblance of normalcy first.

After a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and
Home Minister P Chidambaram, Omar also sent a tough message to
protestors indulging in the cycle of violence warning that
consequences will be "tragic and serious" if curfew
regulations were violated.

Battling a renewed wave of violence that has claimed 18
lives so far in the past four days since Friday, Omar arrived
here this afternoon and went straight for a meeting with Singh
to review the situation in the state. Any political initiative
should also look into the AFSPA issue, Omar said.

A pained Congress president Sonia Gandhi also voiced
concern at the fresh violence and said there were elements
with "ulterior motives" that were instigating the attacks. She
wanted these elements to be identified and brought to book.

Omar said Jammu and Kashmir is a political situation
which needs political handling. "It requires a political
package more than an economic package," he told newsmen after
wrapping up his meetings before returning to Srinagar.

He also said curfew will be implemented strictly and
sought additional paramilitary forces especially the Rapid
Action Force to deal with street protesters.

"Jammu and Kashmir is a political situation. It needs
political handling. It requires a political package more than
an economic package. By political package, I mean dealing with
issues like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, footprint of the
security forces, rehabilitation package for youngsters who are
across the line of control and compensation for victims of the
ongoing trouble.

"We discussed at length the situation prevailing in the
valley and the need for such steps to be taken building
consensus was that the pre-requisite for any sort of
initiatives in the state was some semblance of normalcy," the
Chief Minister said.

Official sources said the Centre was willing to
kickstart political initiatives in J and K including talks
with separatists but wanted violence to end first.

The sources said that the Centre has ruled out any
change in the leadership in the state and promised all
assistance to the Chief Minister.

Omar said Chidambaram has assured him help with regard
to additional forces but made it clear that he (Chief
Minister) wanted to keep the fatalities to the minimum. He
acknowledged that the forces were stretched in the
state.

He also said that restraint will have to be from both
sides and it cannot be one sided.

"The security forces have, given the scale of the
protests and the way it has been managed, been as restrained
as possible for them to be. In a much shorter time space with
a lesser intensity of protests, you had much higher
causalities than in 2008," Omar said.

Today`s meetings comes a day after the CCS convened by
Singh met to discuss the political and administrative steps
needed to be taken to defuse the situation in the Valley.

Omar also said "Curfews were announced and it will have
to be implemented strictly. There will be no other way around
this. Consequences are serious and tragic.

The growing unrest in Kashmir valley also echoed in the
Lok Sabha with opposition BJP demanding that a Parliamentary
Party delegation visit the region. Omar said recognising the need that the problem of J and
K is inherently a political problem, certain initiatives long
in the pipeline are possible provided both the Central
government and the state government are able to restore that
normalcy that is required for those political initiatives to
be taken.

To a question on the current violence, the Chief
Minister said there may not be any one particular group or
individual in a position to both manage, orchestrate and
direct all this. "Today I don`t believe that there is any one
particular group or individual that can really direct what is
happening in the valley.

"While there are number of elements fishing in troubled
waters, one gets a sense that what is happening there
today...there are widespread protests covering a number of
area but for to suggest that any one particular individual or
any one particular organisation is in a position to both
manage, orchestrate and direct all this will be incorrect," he
said.

In his opening remarks, the Chief Minister said "...you
are all well aware of the situation that is prevailing in
large parts of Kashmir valley for more than a month now.

"Tragically we have locked ourselves into a cycle of
violence where protests leading to deaths leading to further
protests leading to further casualties and this cycle of
violence must end," he said.

"We will require that the people stop taking the law
into their hands we require that people stop attacking
government property, police stations and other such buildings.

Unfortunately, as much as one wishes not to resort to the use
of force then people take upon themselves to take the law into
their hands there are consequences to such decisions and often
those consequences are serious and tragic.

"I have from time to time appealed to the people to
break the cycle of violence to stop the system of lawlessness
and to allow the government to take necesaary steps to restore
normalcy," he said.

-PTI