Govt Plans Pullout Of Forces From Kashmir: Chidambaram

30 October 2009
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New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered peace talks to separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said the government was mulling withdrawal of paramilitary forces from the valley as well as the 'vacation of occupied houses and land' by the army. 'We have identified a number of issues on which follow-up action is being taken by the central government and the government of Jammu and Kashmir,' Chidambaram told reporters here. The issues, he said, included 'withdrawal of some paramilitary battalions and vacation of occupied houses and land by the army and paramilitary'. Asked if there were any differences of opinion in the cabinet on troops' withdrawal from the state, Chidambaram said: 'There are no differences of opinion. There are different opinions. And they will be reconciled and the decision taken in appropriate cabinet committees. Everybody doesn't need to have the same opinion on issues.' He said the central government was keen on 'transferring more and more responsibility to the Jammu and Kashmir police and strengthening (its) training'. His comments come after the prime minister said in Srinagar Thursday that the responsibility of maintaining law and order 'will increasingly fall on the Jammu and Kashmir police'. Chidambaram said the government 'intends to follow up on the promise of 'quiet talks, quiet diplomacy' with all shades of political opinion in Jammu and Kashmir', echoing what Manmohan Singh said during his two-day visit to the valley. 'We are willing to carry all stakeholders with us. We need to end all the violence to begin a dialogue,' the prime minister had said. Chidambaram said the new political initiative in Kashmir by the government was 'quiet as opposed to photo op, and quiet as opposed to in the full glare of the media'. 'I think at least in the early stages, the talks should be held one-on-one or one with two people or one with three people so that we discover the contours of the proposal of each group. And, we can then work out the common features where we can perhaps put down on paper what appears to be the outline of the package,' he said. He said the government was also monitoring the progress of the prime minister's reconstruction programme for the state.