Mufti calls for troop withdrawal
4 October 2005
The Daily Times
New Delhi: After a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed called for the withdrawal of the Indian Army from internal security duties in the state. His remark that internal security should be the exclusive domain of police and paramilitary forces is being seen as a hint from the prime minister. He made the withdrawal conditional on normalcy in the valley.It must be noted that this was one of the demands put to Dr Manmohan Singh by the moderate faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) during its leaders' meeting with Manmohan Singh last month. Mr Mufti's comment came at the heels of his government's decision to set free 44 activists languishing in Kashmir jails following the review of their cases in Srinagar on Monday. The release of prisoners was also one of the APHC demands. Sources said the prime minister apprised Mr Mufti about his talks with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in New York and with the APHC leaders in Delhi last month. They also reviewed the progress of the Rs 240 billion economic package for Kashmir given by the Indian government last year, during the prime minister's first visit to Srinagar. Despite repeated queries on the probable handover of the chief minister's office to the Congress in November, Mr Mufti shrugged off the issue.