Govt Hopeful Of 'unique' Solution Through Dialogue On J&K: PC

14 October 2009
Times of India

Srinagar: Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the state towards the end of this month, home minister P Chidambaram said on Wednesday that there would be 'quiet dialogue, quiet diplomacy' to find the contours of a political solution to issues in Jammu and Kashmir. Though he steered clear of saying when such a dialogue would be initiated, the minister said the Centre was not shying away from talks and that 'every shade of opinion in the state' would be consulted. An approach that was outside the media glare could yield a 'unique' solution, he said. Without touching on issues like amnesty to jailed militants or facilitation of the return disillusioned 'commanders' from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, he made the point that infiltration from Pakistan and PoK was 'solely' responsible for violence in the state. He said that increasingly, the J&K police backed by paramilitary was being made responsible for maintenance of peace while Army manned the borders. He said there was a desperation on part of Pakistan to push in infiltrators. The last significant contact with a militant commander was held in 2000 when the Union home secretary had met leaders of separatists and five commanders of the Hizbul Mujahideen-nominated by then chief commander of the outfit in J&K Majid Dar. The government appears to be moving carefully. 'It's not that we have to hide something,' said Chidambaram, adding, 'But a dialogue in full media glare goes nowhere.' Quiet diplomacy and political initiative 'engaging stakeholders in a one-to-one until a political solution is reached is part of our policy on J&K'. He also said many recommendations of working groups set up after an initiative by the Prime Minister had been incorporated and were reflected in many policies and programmes implemented by the government in the state. He said he had been visiting the state every two months to take stock of affairs while secretaries of various Union ministries such as power, agriculture, tourism have been asked to make regular visits to evaluate the progress of projects with field visits. While the next visit of secretaries to J&K is planned for November, the cabinet secretary would be there in February next year to review all projects and the security situation. The home minister suggested that all other cabinet ministers too should make it a habit to visit J&K and personally monitor the PM's reconstruction programme. The emphasis of the fresh policy on J&K includes a tight monitoring of various projects initiated under an overall reconstruction package for the state worth Rs 25,000 crore. Efforts are being made to make the forces deployed in Kashmir to be more professional and deft at handling civilians. In this regard, the government has drafted and implemented a module under which the J&K police and personnel of the CRPF are being retrained for the past 12 weeks to handle civilian protests and avoid casualties. On the possible misuse of mobile phones by militants, Chidambaram said, 'We want everybody to switch over to post-paid connections in the state and if our effort don't bear result, the government may have to come out with a directive to ban pre-paid mobile connections in J&K as they have serious security implications.' He also announced that amendments to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act had been finalized and were before the Union cabinet for its approval. Once the cabinet approved the amendments, they would apply to all parts of the country, including J&K and the north-east. On the issue of IAF firing back on Naxals, the minister said its helicopters would only be used for transportation and for relief and rescue operations. He said that if the defence minister has said that the IAF personnel in these choppers can fire in self-defence, 'probably that is the policy we have'.