Ready for talks with those who abjure violence: PM15 August 2010
The Daily Excelsior
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today told agitating youth in Kashmir that violence will not benefit anyone and that the Government, within the framework of the State being an integral part of India, was willing to move forward in any talks with those who abjure violence. Addressing the nation on the 64th Independence Day from the ramparts of historic Red Fort here, he promised to carry on the recently initiated dialogue process with an emphasis that the Indian democracy has the 'generosity and flexibility' to address concerns of any group. While expressing deep regret for loss of lives on the streets of Kashmir in the last two months, Singh left no one in doubt that the State is an integral part of India. 'Within this framework, we are ready to move forward in any talks which would increase the partnership of the common man in governance and also enhance their welfare,' he said as he unfurled the national tricolour for the seventh consecutive Independence Day. 'We are ready to talk to every person or group which abjures violence,' Dr Singh said. Referring to the recent unrest in Kashmir in which over 50 people lost their lives, he said, 'The years of violence should now end. Such violence would not benefit anyone'. Recalling that he recently participated in a meeting with political parties from Jammu and Kashmir, he said, 'We will endeavour to take this process forward.' In his 35-minute speech, 77-year-old Singh said the Government wants to resolve all differences with Pakistan but made it clear that the dialogue cannot go far unless terrorism emanating from there ends. He talked about the 'serious challenge' posed by Naxalism to internal security and stressed the need for rising above 'personal and political interests' to deal with the menace firmly through Centre-State cooperation. At the same time, he said the Government was ready to talk to Naxals if they abjure violence and emphasised that tribals should get benefits from development. With a host of leaders, including UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and BJP Parliamentary Party Chairman L K Advani besides Ministerial colleagues and diplomats in the audience, Dr Singh said the Government was working to create a new India where everyone would have access to better education, healthcare, food security and other benefits. However, Singh, who has been under attack over rising prices of food items and other essentials, acknowledged that inflation had hurt the poor people more and said the Government was making every effort to control it. As he dwelt upon violence in Kashmir and North East, the Prime Minister asked the people of these areas to 'adopt democratic means to join hands with us for their and the country’s welfare'. Turning to Pakistan, he said India wants to resolve through discussions whatever differences there are. 'As far as Pakistan is concerned, we expect from them that they would not let their territory to be used for acts of terrorism against India,' Dr Singh said. Noting that India has been emphasising this in all the discussions with Pakistan, he said, 'If this is not done, we cannot progress far in our dialogue'. Referring to internal security, Singh said if law and order in any part of the country deteriorates or peace and harmony gets disturbed, the common man is adversely affected. Talking about Naxalism, he described it as a 'serious challenge' to internal security which needs to be dealt with firmly. 'I have stated this before and I say it again-our Government will fully discharge its responsibility to protect each and every citizen of our country. We will deal firmly with those who resort to violence,' Dr Singh said and promised all possible help to State Governments in this regard. At the same time, he 'once again' appealed to Naxalites to 'abjure violence, come for talks with the Government and join hands with us to accelerate social and economic developments.' He recalled his meeting with Chief Ministers of States affected by Naxalism and said it was imperative that the Centre and States work together to meet the challenge. 'It would be difficult for any State to tackle this problem without cooperation from the Centre and coordination between States. We all need to rise above our personal interests to meet this challenge,' Dr Singh said. While talking firmly on Naxalism, the Prime Minister observed that most of the areas affected by it lag behind in development and that the Government wanted to end the neglect of 'adivasi (tribal) brothers and sisters'. He said he had asked the Planning Commission to formulate a comprehensive scheme towards this end, which would be implemented fully. Singh noted that tribals have been dependent on forest produce for centuries and this should not end without creation of new sources of livelihood. He also pitched for a stake for the tribals in developmental projects. Observing that his Government wanted the fruits of development to reach the ‘aam aadmi’, the Prime Minister said that his Government has initiated programmes specially targeted for the welfare of the socially and economically backwards sections of the society. He said the Government stood committed to the welfare of the poor, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, minorities, women and other backward sections of the society. 'But today we do not need many new programmes to achieve our goals. However, we do need to implement the schemes we have already started more effectively, minimising the chances of corruption and misuse of public money,' Dr Singh said. He spoke about the Government’s emphasis on ensuring food security, health care and education for all. He announced constitution of two separate councils for higher education and health to accelerate reforms in these sectors. 'We will soon bring a bill to Parliament for constitution of two separate councils in higher education and health respectively so that reforms in these two areas can be accelerated,' he said. Singh noted that the Government has enacted the Right to Education which will help every Indian to share the benefits of the country’s economic progress and also to contribute to it. The Prime Minister said his Government had also taken initiative for reservation for women in Parliament and in State Legislatures to ensure equal partnership of the fairer sex in the country’s progress. Describing secularism as one of the pillars of the country’s democracy, the Prime Minister said his Government considers 'it is our duty to protect the minorities and provide for their special needs.' This is why the Government has started many new programmes in the last four years for the welfare of the minority communities, he said, adding these would be carried forward.