October 2002 News

Mufti prefers unconditional talks to guns

27 October 2002
The Statesman

New Delhi: The common minimum programme of the Congress-PDP coalition in Jammu and Kashmir announced today emphasised the power of “unconditional” dialogue over bullets to solve the state’s problems, even while stopping short of advocating immediate Indo-Pak talks — a hitherto favourite theme of PDP. The CMP, jointly released by the leaders of the coalition partners at the Congress headquarters today, has asked the Centre to hold “unconditional dialogue” with the new MLAs and “other segments of public opinion” for restoration of peace. It has also promised the virtual disbanding of the controversial special operations group (SOG), whose personnel will be “assimilated- relocated” within the regular police establishment. The coalition has also decided against implementing POTA. However striking a pragmatic posture, the CMP did not advocate immediate Indo-Pak talks, a hitherto favourite theme of PDP, while retaining the spirit of most of the themes on which the popular mandate was sought. The chief minister-elect, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, said the gun would not solve any problem and a dialogue was necessary to address all issues of J&K. Mr Sayeed said the coalition government would not implement POTA as promised by his party and pointed out that the Congress had opposed the controversial Act in Parliament and all its state governments had not implemented it. The CMP said the government would screen all prisoners in the state and those against whom there were no criminal cases regarding militancy would be freed. As part of the healing touch, the CMP promises to rehabilitate the hapless victims of militancy, be they survivors of militant killings or children of killed militants. The government will review all cases of detainees, being held without trial, investigate all cases of custodial killings and violation of human rights Mr Sayeed hailed the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi,for rising above partisanship and helping form a government in the state. “She has taken a historic decision,” he said. “Our coalition will try to put out the fire within so that nobody from outside can take advantage,” he said adding all three regions of the state would be accorded equal attention and involved in decision making. Mufti meets Vajpayee: Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who is all set to head a coalition government in J&K, met Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee this evening, adds another report. Sources described the half-an-hour meeting “a courtesy call”. Mr LK Advani was present at the meeting, officials said.


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