March 2002 News

PM, Advani, George plan visit to J&K

18 March 2002
The Asian Age

New Delhi: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Monday promised a fair election in Jammu and Kashmir and asked terrorist groups to participate in the poll to “prove their popularity.” “I will go to Jammu and Kashmir along with home and defence ministers to take stock of the situation there and have discussions to evolve a strategy... I plan to have wide-ranging consultations with various sections before finalising a strategy to improve the situation there,” Mr Vajpayee said, winding up the two-day discussion on motion of thanks to the President’s address in Rajya Sabha, which was adopted by voice vote after negation and withdrawal of amendments moved by the Opposition members. Mr Vajpayee, however, did not indicate any date for his proposed visit to Jammu & Kashmir. “Things have taken a turn. Changes in Pakistan have had an impact on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. It has had a favourable impact. We must take advantage of it,” the Prime Minister said. He said that the outcome of assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir will prove the popularity of various groups among the people of the state. He said there was an atmosphere of confidence among the people and they were wary of the separatist forces. “The need of the hour was to make the best of the changed situation in the state,” he said. Mr Vajpayee said India’s stand on Kashmir was being justified in the comity of nations and New Delhi’s approach was being acknowledged in the world. He said perhaps the efforts that were required in this direction had not been made. Suggesting that it was the duty of all the political parties to propagate India’s views on Kashmir at various international fora, the Prime Minister said the recent foreign tours by teams of MPs had helped in this direction. Mr Vajpayee said more such teams should go abroad. The Prime Minister criticised the media for “not cross- checking statements before reporting them.” He made the remark in reply to Samajwadi Party member Amar Singh’s demand that clarify the Vajpayee government clarify its stand on the resolution adopted by the RSS at its Bangalore meeting on Sunday in which the organisation had said that Muslims’ real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority community. Mr Vajpayee said: “Don’t talk about what was reported in media. It had also reported some statement purportedly made by BJP MP Vinay Katiyar. But it turned out that Katiyar had never made that statement. The reports were denied by Katiyar himself. The media has a duty to cross check such statements before going to print.”


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