Ready for talks with militants, says Advani
5 April 2000
IAC: The Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, today offered to hold talks with Kashmir militants on the issue of autonomy but within the framework of the Constitution. ''The Government is willing to hold talks with militants on every demand, legitimate or perverse, if they abandon the path of violence,'' he told presspersons on his way to Gujarat. Asked about the demand for restoration of pre-1953 position in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the talks could cover this aspect also, the basic parameter being within the Constitution. Mr. Advani cited the talks with organisations such as the NSCN (IM) and Bodos and said though these efforts might not have yielded total peace, there had been ''considerable peace''. Describing the recent release of three Hurriyat leaders as an initiative towards achieving peace and normalcy in Kashmir, he said ''it was not a casual action but an outcome of a joint decision by the Centre and the State Government''. Ruling out any talks with Pakistan in the present situation, he said ''there will be no dialogue with Islamabad unless and until it stops sponsoring cross-border terrorism against India.'' He said the U.S. President, Mr. Bill Clinton, endorsed India''s stand during his recent visit to South Asia and conveyed to Pakistan that it had to create appropriate conditions for talks. ''Pakistan cannot go on killing people and press for dialogue at the same time. It must create conditions in which talks can be purposeful.'' The Centre''s attitude towards Pakistan changed after the Kargil intrusion, as Islamabad had betrayed India''s initiative through the Lahore process. The Government''s approach towards Pakistan-sponsored terrorism could be ''firm and nasty'', he said but its attitude towards those resorting to violence and undemocratic means in various parts of the country would be different. The Government had been thinking about the release of the Hurriyat leaders for the last couple of months, the Minister said. He declined to comment on the police firing in Anantnag, saying that the State Government had already announced a judicial probe. The killing of 35 Sikhs in Chattissinghpura was a ''major blunder'' and a ''tactical mistake'' on Pakistan''s part. Later in Kalol, Gujarat, Mr. Advani said that during the next five years Gujarat would attain a respectable position in respect of literacy. Inaugurating a railway manned level- crossing between Kalol junction and Randheja station, Mr. Advani said the NDA Government would endeavour to provide shelter, health, education and literacy to all in the next five years.