Centre to discuss special powers to J&K
27 August 2001
New Delhi: Union Home Minister L K Advani has said the Centre would initiate talks with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on the issue of ''special powers'' for the State. ''The Government of India has conveyed to the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister that he should discuss with K C Pant (Centre''s interlocutor) as to what kind of special powers the State needs so that development and welfare of people of the State can be attended to in a more effective manner,'' Mr Advani told a group of journalists on Sunday night while returning from a tour of Lakshadweep Islands. He said he held detailed discussions with Mr Pant a couple of days back in this connection. On the proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir, the Home Minister asserted that it would be overcome and normalcy that existed before Kargil conflict in 1999 restored. ''These are within our capacity,'' he said. Ridiculing the impression within certain sections in Pakistan that Indian security forces were tired of fighting the proxy war and that India could disintegrate if pressure was applied, Mr Advani said ''these are both incorrect and basically wrong''. ''The consequences of proxy war will be on Pakistan itself and it has already started showing,'' he said citing clashes between Shias and Sunnis in that country. He said Pakistan Government had started a crackdown on Jehadi groups after realising this fact. Stating that proxy war is also financially backed up by drug trafficking, Mr Advani said the menace ''hurts Pakistan also''. On reports of suspension of Government crackdown in Jehadi groups in Pakistan after protests by these outfits, he said the Pakistan Government has no control or grip over these organisations. He said the Jehadi groups were not interested in Jammu and Kashmir but entire India. Mr Advani was in Lakshadweep to lay the foundation stone for an energy park at Kavaratti, capital of the Union Territory. The Home Minister also met locals in the Lakshadweep islands and lent a patient ear to their problems and requests. Among the requests was the opening up of more islands of the Union Territory for foreign tourists to help exploit the tourism potential and generate more employment for locals. Mr Advani assured them that he would take up the matter with Ministries of Tourism and Environment. At present only two of the 37 islands are open to foreign tourists. The locals also sought the setting up of a degree college so that students did not have to go to the mainland for studies after higher secondary. Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha and MP from Lakshadweep, P M Sayeed, impressed upon Mr Advani the need for creating marine police force and raising the age limit for recruitment from the present 30 to 35 years. Minister of State for Home Affairs Vidyasagar Rao also accompanied Mr Advani on the tour. Mr Rao is in-charge of Union Territories.