April 2003 News

PDF seeks special package for J&K

28 April 2003
The Hindu
Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: The People's Democratic Forum (PDF), comprising an Independent and CPI(M) MLAs in the coalition Government, has demanded a special political and economic package for Jammu and Kashmir to address the extraordinary circumstances. The forum said the Centre should abandon the beaten track and take fresh initiatives. However, serious differences in the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) led to a virtual boycott of the Centre's interlocutor, N.N. Vohra, by the Jammu and Kashmir Government. A PDF delegation, led by its leader and MLA, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, called on Mr. Vohra today and presented a memorandum envisaging concrete measures to address the problems in the State. While welcoming the political initiative announced by the Prime Minister during his recent visit to the Valley, the delegation called for a sustained and meaningful dialogue with people's representatives, separatists and others. They stressed that a secular and democratic solution alone could reinforce the inter and intra-regional aspirations of the people and guarantee a harmonious development of the three distinct regions of the State. The forum cautioned against talking of pre-emptive strikes against a neighbouring country and reiterated that the restoration of peace in Jammu and Kashmir was linked to peace in the sub- continent. The delegation's demands included a special economic and political package for the State, encouragement to the Common Minimum Programme of the State Government, restoration of infrastructure, release of innocent people from jails, relief and rehabilitation of victims of violence and a dialogue to repair the damage to the social fabric due to the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus. Minister boycotts talks Serious differences within the ruling PDP have come to the fore with Ghulam Hassan Mir, a senior Minister, staying away from talks with Mr Vohra. A delegation of the PDP led by its president and Finance Minister, Muzaffar Hussain Beig, met the Centre's interlocutor with all the MLAs and MLCs, including its vice-president, Mehbooba Mufti, on Sunday. They spent over three hours with him. As was learnt earlier, Mr. Mir was to represent the State Government's views to Mr. Vohra but he boycotted the meeting owing to differences within the PDP over the issue. Mr. Mir said that before meeting with Mr. Vohra groundwork should have been done. 'There was no need to follow up the visit of the Prime Minister like this,' he said, adding 'the party should have taken action on the ground in spreading the message of the Prime Minister that guns offer no solution'. He said the party had moved in haste. Mr. Mir's decision to 'boycott' the talks has jolted the Chief Minister, who has been advocating talks with Mr. Vohra. The latter is planning to leave tomorrow and no representative from the Government has met him so far. Efforts to contact Mr. Beig and Ms. Mehbooba failed. Another MLA, Usman Abdul Majid, also called on Mr. Vohra and highlighted the need for restoring peace. He advocated dialogue with even those who preached secession and called for a dialogue with Pakistan. Mr. Majid demanded that every possible step be taken to eliminate militancy especially as the operations launched by the Security Forces to deal with the activities of the militant groups resulted in causing further alienation. A delegation of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) also met Mr. Vohra.


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