Centre to soon come out with series of measures on Kashmir1 September 2010
The Daily Excelsior
NEW DELHI: Government today expressed its willingness to hold talks with 'any group' from the Kashmir valley wishing to come foward amid indications that it would be soon coming out with a series of measures to address the issue. 'We hope to restart the dialogue process. We will talk to any group, any political party which is willing to talk to us,' Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters while presenting a report card of his Ministry for the month of August. He was replying to questions on whether the Centre would kick-start political process of a dialogue with groups especially the separatists with violence showing signs of decline. The Home Minister made it clear that the Central Government was willing to talk to all sections of people in Jammu and Kashmir. Sources in the Government have also indicated that a high-level meeting was scheduled in the next few days during which the Centre, in consultation with the State Government, will come out with specific meaures to address some issues which may bring relief to the people of the State. This includes relocation of security forces, employment package for militants, who have served their sentences and were unemployed, and a fresh surrender policy. In a related development, J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is in the national capital, also met the Home Minister and discussed the situation in the State. During the meeting, Omar emphasised that the situation in the State should not be seen only as a law and order problem and that political initiatives should be taken at the earliest, sources said. The Chief Minister urged Chidambaram to take steps in this direction at the earliest like amendments to Armed Forces Special Powers Act and announcing an employment package for its five lakh unemployed youths besides an employment package for surrendered and released militants, the sources said. Omar said the time was ripe for the Centre to implement its assurance of having a political approach on Kashmir as stated by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and the Home Minsiter himself on the floor of the Parliament, the sources said. Earlier, Chidambaram was asked about his statement at the conference of Directors General and Inspectors General of Police that the dialogue would be started in 'few days'. 'I canít give a date. Few days means few days...Government hopes that it will be able to re-start the process of dialogue in the near future,' he said. Asked to comment on BJPís policy on Kashmir which has been demanding the scrapping of Article 370 in the Constitution that guarantees special status to the State, Chidambaram said the principal opposition partyís policy on Jammu and Kashmir was well known. 'Governmentís policy on the State has been stated in more than one occasions by the Prime Minister (Dr Manmohan Singh) and by me too. There are obviously differences between BJP and the UPA,' he said. The Home Minister said the UPA Government had already declared its Kashmir policy and it would continue to pursue that policy. 'We will pursue the policy we have declared and we believe that that policy is a right policy. It will bring in peace and order in Jammu and Kashmir,' he said. Meanwhile, India will be responding by tomorrow to Pakistanís fresh dossier regarding more information on Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist David Headley and his activities during his multiple visits to the country between 2006 and 2009. 'They gave a dossier on David Headley. We have furnished answers. The answers are being given to Ministry of External Affairs and I am sure they will hand over the answers to Pakistan High Commission either today or tomorrow,' Chidambaram said. Meanwhile, days after Congress party distanced itself from his remarks on saffron terror, Chidambaram said the phrase brought home the message of right-wing terrorism and the purpose has been served. However, he said party is supreme and he had no patent on the phrase-saffron terrorism. Chidambaram said there has been indication that right-wing fundamentalist groups were suspected to be behind some of the recent bomb blasts in the country. 'These are religious fundamentalist groups. The message ought not to be lost in phrases and perhaps the use of that phrase has brought the message home. So, the purpose, in a way, has been served,' he said. His reaction came when he was asked whether he stood by his recent remarks that a new phenomenon of 'saffron terrorism' involved in many bomb blasts has been uncovered, which has created a controversy. Asked to comment whether there was difference between policy of this Home Ministry and his Congress party, he said 'party is supreme'. He said the Government has carried out various construction and development work related to fencing and building of roads along Indo-China and Indo-Bangla borders. 'Three kilometres of fencing and five kms of road works were completed in August, 2010 under phase-II of the project. Seven kms of fencing was replaced in August, 2010 under phase III of the project. Poles for floodlighting were erected on a length of 30 kms during the month of August,' Chidambaram said. On Indo-China border, 15.22 kms of road formation works and 2.36 kms of surfacing works were completed in August. 'Formation and cutting works were completed for the Sugar Point-Lepcha Road (Himachal Pradesh) and the Bona-Gelling road (Arunachal Pradesh),' he told reporters here while presenting the August report card of the Ministry of Home Affairs. Chidambaram said Rs 23.54 crore was released to left wing extremism affected States to fight with the menace and carry out development work. 'Unified Commands have been created in the States of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal,' he said. The Government has sanctioned 12,000 additional posts of Special Police Officers (SPOs) for five Naxal-hit States. A highest of 3,000 each posts were sanctioned for Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Jharkhand and 1,500 each in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, he said. (Agencies) .