PC hints at new beginning for peace talks in Kashmir25 August 2010
The Daily Excelsior
NEW DELHI: Hinting at a new beginning for peace talks in Kashmir, Home Minister P Chidambaram today hoped a starting point would be found in the next few days to help break the vicious cycle of violence and re-start the process of dialogue. 'We are concerned that we have not been able to stop the vicious cycle in which that State is caught,' he said while inaugurating the three-day Conference of Directors General and Inspectors General of Police here. 'However, it is my hope that, in the next few days, we would be able to find that elusive ‘starting point’ from where we could reach out to the protestors, reassure them of their rights and dignity, restore peace and order, redeem the promises made, and re-start the process of dialogue that will lead to a solution.' The Minister noted that since June this year, J and K has been caught in a vicious cycle of stone-pelting, lathicharge, teargassing and firing, leading to casualties and resulting in more stone-pelting. The Valley was rocked by violence following the death of a teenager on June 11 after he was allegedly hit by teargas shell near Rajouri Kadal area. After that, street protests and clashes with security forces have broken out in the Valley claiming 63 lives. Chidambaram said the security forces have been instructed to act with great restraint. 'The situation has not yet returned to normal,' he said and added the Centre has acknowledged that a political solution must be found to the problems of the State. He said Centre has offered a dialogue with all sections of the people of J&K and all political parties and groups. 'However, it is my hope that, in the next few days, we would be able to find that elusive ‘starting point’ from where we could reach out to the protestors, reassure them of their rights and dignity, restore peace and order, redeem the promises made, and re-start the process of dialogue that will lead to a solution,' he said. Chidambaram said beginning 2005, and with the exception of 2008, the law and order situation in the State has been extremely benign, with few incidents and fewer casualties. 'Unfortunately, since June this year, there has been an unexpected turn of events... The situation has not yet returned to normal,' he said. The Home Minister said amidst serious disturbances, 4.57 lakh yatris completed the Amarnath Yatra, exceeding the number of 3.92 lakh yatris last year. 'So far, 5,16,970 tourists have visited Jammu and Kashmir, and that number also exceeds the 3,55,960 tourists of last year,' he said. Chidambaram suggested transferring Central funds for modernising police forces to the police chiefs instead of the State Governments. Mr Chidambaram asked, 'Should we try to put in place a system for transfer of funds under the Modernisation of Police Forces schemes directly to Director General of Police of the State.' He thought of the idea exactly a month after various State Chief Ministers, at the 54th National Development Council (NDC) meet on July 25, showed displeasure to the Centre’s growing tendency to transfer funds directly to various agencies of the states, bypassing their legislatures. Mr Chidambaram asked the police chiefs if he should consider transferring the Central funds directly to them, suspecting that various States were not paying proper attention to modernising the police forces and not spending their share of funds for the purpose. 'Is your State making the required 25 per cent contribution to the MPF Scheme? Hope you will also tell us whether your Governments have increased, in real terms, allocation under the head police. Moreover, do you think, you have been delegated adequate financial powers to spend the money allocated to your departments?' he posed a question. Warning that there has been no let up in attempts to radicalise the youth, Chidambaram said a new phenomenon of 'saffron terrorism' involved in many bomb blasts has been uncovered. 'There is no let up in the attempts to radicalise young men and women in India. Besides, there is recently uncovered phenomenon of saffron terrorism that has been implicated in many bomb blasts of the past,' he said. The Home Minister said save for one incident, the last 21 months have been remarkably free of any terrorist attack and the attack on the German bakery in Pune was indeed a blot and hoped that the suspects will be apprehended soon. Referring to the Naxal problem, Chidambaram said despite setbacks, security forces have been able to reassert their control in several Maoist affected districts. He said this year alone so far 424 civilians have been killed and of these 192 were killed after being named 'police informers'. 'We have called upon the CPI (Maoist) to abjure violence and come up for talks. I regret to say that there has been no direct and credible response to our offer of talks,' he said. Maintaining that one of the principal concerns of the Government is the maintenance of communal peace and harmony, the Home Minister said he was particularly dismayed by the fact that petty disputes and imagined slights trigger conflicts between communities and groups. 'The Scheduled Castes are especially vulnerable,' he said. Chidambaram said it was a matter of satisfaction that there has been no major outbreak of communal or caste violence in the last 12 months and urged police officers to remain vigilant. 'At the first sign of communal or caste violence, you should depute senior officers to deal with the situation firmly and without fear or favour,' he said. (AGENCIES).