Kashmir Solution In Sight: Chidambaram9 December 2010
The Indian Express
New Delhi: Home Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday said the “contours of a political solution” to the Kashmir problem should emerge over the next few months. Addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee, the Minister said while the first and second reports of the interlocutors dealt with confidence-building measures, they will now focus on evolving a political solution for Kashmir. On the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Chidambaram said a proposal to amend it was under consideration. Expressing confidence in the progress being made by the interlocutors, Chidambaram said Kashmir was a political issue for which a political solution must be found but peace and good governance were pre-requisites to achieve the goal. On the recent unrest in the Valley, he said while violence perpetrated by militants must be dealt with in a “strong and resolute manner”, the violence witnessed during protests by residents required “deft and sensitive handling”. The interlocutors will complete the third round of negotiations in Jammu region during their visit from December 17 to December 23 after which they are expected to get down to the task of evolving a political solution. Eminent journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, noted academician Radha Kumar and former CIC member M M Ansari are the three interlocutors. The Minister claimed after the recent eight-point plan for Jammu & Kashmir was announced, there had been considerable improvement in the situation. Chidambaram, however, conceded that this process needed to be strengthened with space for peaceful protests, reduction in the visible presence of security forces and delivery on the ground. Members of the committee emphasised the need to evolve a political consensus at the national level, besides working on creating employment opportunities, especially for the educated youth. They suggested amending the Armed Forces Act and speedy rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants. Responding to the suggestions from the members, the Home Minister pointed out that two special task forces - one for Jammu and the other for Ladakh - have been constituted to examine the developmental needs of these regions. Apart from that, the Prime Minister’s Office had also constituted an expert group under the chairmanship of Dr C Rangarajan to formulate a job plan, he said. With the reports of all these groups due next month, their recommendations are likely to be considered by the government and factored in the next year’s Budget, the minister said. Among those who attended the meeting were Prof Ram Gopal Yadav, Bhubaneswar Kalita, Rishang Keishing, H K Dua and Dr Ashok Sekhar Ganguly from the Rajya Sabha, and Dr. Thokchom Meinya, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala and N Dharam Singh from the Lok Sabha.