PM Offers Peace To Kashmiri Militants In PoK
24 May 2006
Srinagar: In a major peace initiative, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today sought to encourage Kashmiri militants who had crossed over to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to return saying that their cases would be reviewed and promised 'zero tolerance' to custodial deaths. Singh, who addressed the second roundtable conference on Kashmir attended by representatives of various sections of the State's society and chaired a meeting of unified command, suggested institutionalisation of arrangement to bring people from both sides of divided Kashmir closer. Pointing out that there were two dimensions to the Kashmir problem, Singh said, 'one is the relationship between Delhi and Srinagar and the other is the relationship between Delhi and Islamabad. These two dimensions are, of course, different but each affects the other.' The prime minister, who is in Srinagar amid spurt in terror attacks, issued a stern warning to 'some elements' within the State who are out to disrupt peace. He expressed government's resolve to protect people from terrorist attacks and asked the security forces to deal with terrorism firmly but humanely while observing human rights. '...In the light of changing environment, we are reviewing the cases of all detainees. Included in this is a review of cases of those (who) crossed over (to PoK) after violating our laws and who are now anxious to come home,' Singh said addressing the roundtable attended by 30 leaders, including representatives of PDP, National Conference, Congress and Panthers Party. The announcement assumes significance as there have been reports that many Kashmiri youth who had taken to militancy and crossed over to PoK were keen to return home. As the valley witnessed a complete shut down following call by various militant outfits, the prime minister said it was government's endeavour to put behind the tragic memories of the past while working to build a prosperous future for the State. The Srinagar city turned into impregnable fortress with police and para- military forces positioned at strategic locations to ward off any threats from militants, who have carried out two suicide attacks since May 21. The meetings of the prime minister were held at the Sher-e-Kashmir convention centre situated on the banks of Dal Lake. Condemning acts of violence, Singh said government would ensure that every resident of this State is protected from such terrorist acts and atrocities. 'We are prepared to take every step towards achieving this objective. We condemn such activities and will ensure that such plans fail,' he said. He said that the 'security forces are here to protect the people and that their stay here is based on this.' On a day when militants struck at three places in the valley injuring four CRPF jawans and ten civilians, Singh asked the security forces to be 'firm' and 'humane' and function within parametres of law while having 'zero tolerance' for custodial deaths. Maintaining that government recognised that to resolve political issues, all forms of dialogue should continue, he hoped the Hurriyat Conference, which has boycotted even the second round table, would at the 'appropriate time' join the meet and share their views. Describing his meeting with the Hurriyat leaders earlier this month in Delhi as 'positive,' Singh said they were prepared to take the dialogue process forward and were 'ready to prepare specific proposals.'