Round Two: Roundtable To Come With Package For J&K
17 May 2006
The Hindustan Times
New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will arrive in Srinagar on May 24 to preside over the second roundtable on Kashmir in Srinagar. The two- day conference will begin in the afternoon and conclude the next day with an announcement of a package for the state by the PM. The first roundtable was held at the Prime Minister's residence in New Delhi on February 25 this year. Chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said he was happy the PM would be in the state for two days as the period would offer ample opportunities to all participants - whose numbers are not to cross 20 - to express and exchange their views freely and frankly. 'I am sure the conference in Srinagar will be a big step forward in the peace process,' he said. The PM will chair a review meeting of security before the start of the second roundtable . It will be for the first time that Manmohan Singh will be presiding over any security meeting, though his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee had done it in May 2002, in the height of tensions between India and Pakistan. The PM is likely to announce a political package, demands for which has come from various quarters. Political parties like the PDP and National Conference and the separatists have demanded that peak-militancy era laws like the Disturbed Areas Act and Jammu and Kashmir Armed Forces Special Powers Act be withdrawn, and troop presence be considerably reduced. The parties have also demanded that all youth languishing in jails be released and job opportunities be offered to released militants as well as to the families of active militants.