Omar Asks Delhi To Walk Extra Mile To Engage Pak10 September 2011
New Delhi: Pinpointing the challenges of internal and external dimensions Jammu and Kashmir is confronted with, the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah Saturday urged the Union Government to walk an extra-mile for finding ways and means to remain engaged with Pakistan to address the external dimensions of the issues of the State. Addressing the 15th meeting of National Integration Council (NIC) at Vigyan Bhawan here, chaired by Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, Omar said the peculiar security challenges in the State more often than not emanate from across the borders and have implications which go much beyond the territorial boundaries of the State. “It is often said that while one can be choosy about one’s friends, the same principal does not apply to a neighbour”, he said. He urged Government of India (GoI) to walk an extra-mile for finding ways and means to remain engaged with Pakistan to address the external dimensions of the issues of the State. “I have often stated that most, if not all, internal security problems are essentially rooted in politics. As a matter of fact even armed insurgencies are basically struggles for political space. It has been realized over a period of time the world over and within the country itself, that issues involving contrary positions can never be resolved through violent agitations and confrontations. This being the case the most obvious approach would be to seek appropriate political solutions for the political problems. It goes without saying that a timely political solution to a problem would ensure that it does not balloon into a full-fledged law and order or an internal security problem”, Omar maintained. Appealing the Chief Ministers and cabinet ministers of various States present in the meeting, he emphasized the need for keeping students and traders of Jammu and Kashmir, attaining education and engaged in economic activities outside the State, above the suspicion net and giving them due respect. He urged them to ensure this important aspect in their particular States. Referring to interlocutors, Omar said the team of Interlocutors appointed by GoI for the dialogue with all the stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir has visited the State time and again and met a large number of stakeholders. “It is expected that the final report of the Interlocutors will provide a roadmap for a solution to some of the pressing problems confronting the State”, he said. Calling for setting up of Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the chief minister said people in Jammu and Kashmir have witnessed unprecedented levels of violence. “A time has come to find an out of box solution to bring an element of closure to this pernicious cycle of untold suffering. To my mind, of the many other options that can be considered in this regard, the setting up of a TRC can be a possible first step towards assuaging the alienation and restoring the confidence of the people in the democratic institutions of the State”, he said. He urged the delegates at the NIC, where cabinet ministers including Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram were present, to discuss the idea and give it 'a fair trial'. He said that the questions that have emerged due to the surfacing of unmarked graves need to be answered. He advocated a joint State-Centre mechanism in this regard. Maintaining that J&K is a pluralistic, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-ethnic State, he said the society in State has never been communally divided even when there were incidents of large scale communal violence in the rest of the country. “The State has invariably remained unaffected. However, the onset of militancy in early 1990’s saw the forced migration of large number of people belonging to one particular community from Kashmir Valley to Jammu,” he said. Omar said the forced migration of Kashmiri Pandits has created a big void in the composite communal fabric of the State. “The State Government has been implementing a comprehensive multi-sectoral package as part of the PMRP to facilitate return of Pandits to Valley and there by fill up this gap,” he said. He said the State government has also brought amendments in the electoral laws to ensure that the names of the Kashmiri Pandits, who had to migrate from the Valley due to disturbed conditions, continue to figure on the electoral rolls so that they continue to be stakeholders in the electoral process. 'The state government has enacted the Jammu and Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection and Restraint of Distress Sales) Act 1997 to prevent the distress sale of the properties of the Kashmiri migrants,' he said adding his government was also planning to bring about a legislation to protect the religious places of the Kashmiri Pandits. On handling of civil disturbances, Omar said the prolonged civil disturbances in Kashmir in 2010 summer resulted in loss of many innocent lives and loses on economic fronts besides irreparable disruption of the education system. “Dealing with such law and order problems in general and with the stone throwing crowds in particular requires a completely different approach on the part of the police”, he said. “While the State Police has achieved enviable level of expertise in handling militancy and militancy related incidents, it is still in the process of transition to the handling of law and order situations of the kind now being seen in the Valley”, he said adding five battalions of police have been specially trained for the law and order maintenance duties and the traditional methods of crowd control have been comprehensively modified. He said new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) have been put in place for the forces. “Two sub-groups were constituted by the Home Ministry to formulate new SOP. The sub-group one was set up to develop a new SOP for dealing with law and order disturbances of different situations and for upgrading of training of policemen for riot control. The SOP formulated in this regard stands approved and is implemented in the State. The sub-group second was set up to identify new anti-riot gear equipment and for the upgradation of existing technology”, he said. The chief minister said the concerted efforts of the government resulted in a record number of tourist arrivals in summer of 2011 and economy has seen a turnaround. “There has been a significant improvement in the overall internal security situation in the State over the last couple of years with the militant incidents going down steadily. Due to close cooperation and synergy between armed forces, paramilitary forces and the State police, the overall situation continues to improve further with considerable pressure being brought to bear on the militants,” he said. Asserting that his government is fully committed to make Jammu and Kashmir a model of peaceful co-existence and ideal State where each and everyone shares the fruits of peace and prosperity, Omar said that concrete efforts have been made to provide a clean, transparent, effective, accountable, corruption-free, people-centric and people-oriented administration. On communal harmony, Chief Minister said it needed to be understood that the root cause of communalism is not the presence of many religions in the country. “It is only when the religious sentiments are exploited with economic or political motives which give rise to communalism. Communalism is a state of mind at a psychological level and communal conflicts is its overt expression. Communal conflicts emerge only when there is a complete breakdown in the relations between the communities,” he said. Describing radicalization of youth as very dangerous trend for a multi-religious society like India, he underlined the need of curbing this tendency in a firm and tactful manner. “The solution to all such problems lies in launching a sustained campaign for the inclusive development of all the communities in the country. This campaign can be done at two levels – one based on the notion of unity in diversity that can be steered through an interfaith dialogue-the other by initiating an element of introspection and discussion within all the communities”, he said underscoring the equal importance of both. Omar drew the attention of NIC towards the most disturbing and dangerous aspect of people steadily losing faith in the institutions that have been set up either to govern or to protect them. “We have a bounden duty to rekindle and restore the faith of the general public in these democratic institutions. The people have to be re-assured that the guilty howsoever mighty he may be, will be found and punished”, he said highlighting the need for a new architecture comprising of fully empowered and autonomous institutions to cleans the system from the virus of corruption. “We should also focus on building the capacities of investigating agencies and bringing about suitable legislative changes for setting up of fast track courts for speedy trials. The Council needs to collectively exercise its moral authority on the Governments to ensure that the requisite follow-up steps are taken immediately and the public faith in the institutions of the parliamentary democracy is not allowed to be shaken”, he added.