April 2017 News

Centre Rules Out Immediate Talks, Wants Situation To Improve First

24 April 2017
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: The Centre has ruled out any immediate talks with separatists or other hardcore elements in the Kashmir Valley on the ground that situation was not conducive for undertaking such an exercise presently. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh were reported to have conveyed to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to create conducive atmosphere for talks by restoring peace and normalcy in the Kashmir valley. Mehbooba is reported to have assured the top political leadership of the country that situation would improve in the next two to three months. Mehbooba had 20 minutes meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, New Delhi this morning followed by another 30-minutes meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh at North Block in which BJP general secretary, Incharge Jammu and Kashmir Affairs Ram Madhav was also present. Immediately after the meeting, Rajnath chaired high-level security review meeting on Jammu and Kashmir with National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, Director Generals of BSF, CRPF, Intelligence Bureau and heads of other security and Intelligence agencies. Sources told the Excelsior that the Central Government was clearly of the view that peace and normalcy were pre-requisite in the Kashmir valley for initiating talks with the stakeholders. Sources said the Chief Minister is understood to have assured the Prime Minister and the Home Minister that all possible measures were being taken by her Government with support of the Centre to restore peace and normalcy in the troubled Valley and that she expects good results in next two to three months. Sources said apart from security situation, both along the frontiers and hinterland, working of the first-ever PDP-BJP coalition Government also came up for review in the Chief Minister's meetings with the Prime Minister and the Home Minister. The relations between the two coalition partners were recently strained after PDP leader lost on safe seat of MLC due to alleged 'backstabbing' by the BJP, which took one vote of the PDP supporter Independent MLA. Speaking to reporters twice after meeting Modi and Rajnath, Mehbooba said the Prime Minister was not averse to the talks with stakeholders but added that atmosphere has to be created for holding the dialogue. 'Talks cannot happen amid stone pelting and firing of bullets,' she asserted. At the meeting, she again invoked former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's policy on Kashmir and said the thread should be picked up from where he had left off - an apparent suggestion for talks with separatists. She recalled that during the tenure of Vajpayee as Prime Minister, then Deputy Prime Minister, Incharge Home Affairs, LK Advani had held talks with Hurriyat Conference and separatists. 'Governance, development and dialogue would be possible only when there is peace in the State and for that we are trying our best,' she said, adding the Prime Minister too has an intention of holding talks after the situation becomes normal. Replying to a specific question as to whether there were chances of imposition of Governor's rule in Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba said: 'that question is for the Centre to answer'. On spurt in the incident of stone pelting in the Valley by youths including students, Mehbooba said some of the youths were disillusioned while others were being mobilized to indulge in stone pelting. 'I have called meeting of the Unified Headquarters in Srinagar tomorrow. We will review security situation and discuss how the situation can be contained and peace restored,' she said, admitting that the youths had been instigated for stone pelting through WhatsApp Groups and Facebook. 'Talks are the only option,' Mehbooba said, adding that confrontation is not the solution. 'How long you can have a confrontation?' she asked. 'Talks with Hurriyat (Conference) had taken place when Vajpayee ji was the Prime Minister and L K Advani ji was the Deputy Prime Minister. We need to start from where Vajpayee ji left. Talks are the only way out,' she said. She added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always made it clear that he stand for Vajpayee doctrine on Kashmir solution. Replying to a question on strained relations between two coalition partners-PDP and BJP-after the loss of PDP candidate in the MLC elections on safe seat of Jammu division at the hands of BJP, Mehbooba said: 'this shouldn't have happened'. However, she maintained, this was an internal matter of the alliance partners and will be resolved. She also raised the Indus Water Treaty issue with the Prime Minister saying it was causing a huge loss of Rs 20,000 crore to the State and it should be compensated for the losses. Mehbooba said the Prime Minister assured her that efforts would be made to see how the State would be compensated for this. Mehbooba expressed confidence that situation in Jammu and Kashmir would improve in the next two or three months, after which a dialogue could be initiated. She didn't specify with whom the talks will be held. 'I understand that the coming 2-3 months are crucial for us. I want to say that you will find the situation of Jammu and Kashmir changed. We will first restore normalcy and then talks can be initiated,' she said. She said the Central Government at the highest level would have to take a decision on initiating a dialogue. Mehbooba also called upon the Central leaders to initiate steps for implementation of Agenda of Alliance reached between PDP and BJP before formation of the coalition Government. During her meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh in which BJP's general secretary Incharge of Jammu and Kashmir, Ram Madhav, was also present, Mehbooba briefed Singh about the law and order situation in the Valley, where violence broke out during April 9 by-poll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in which nine civilians were killed. She said there had to be an end to incidents of stone pelting and firing by security forces. The two leaders discussed steps needed to bring peace back to the Valley, where student protests against police actions have been gaining ground in recent days. Mehbooba also raised the issue of security of Kashmiris living in different parts of the country, referring to reports of alleged threats to them in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Singh told Mehbooba that all State Governments have been instructed to provide security to Kashmiris in their States and asked to take strong action against anyone threatening or harassing Kashmiris. Meanwhile, top security brass of the country today reviewed the situation in Jammu and Kashmir amid continued unrest in the Kashmir valley. Home Minister Rajnath Singh was given a detailed presentation on the latest ground situation in the State in the wake of violence since the April 9 by-poll to Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, sources said. They discussed the steps taken to bring back normalcy in the Valley, which has witnessed many protests and stone- pelting incidents in the recent past. Singh discussed increased infiltration bids from across the border with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and the top officials of the Home Ministry, the paramilitary forces and the chiefs of the Intelligence agencies. Sources said the Home Minister directed the officials to ensure intensified vigil along the International Border and the Line of Control to foil attempts by the militants to sneak into Jammu and Kashmir during the summer, the sources said. A possible strategy to deal with the challenges arising out of the increasing incidents of stone pelting on the security personnel was also discussed at the meeting, they said. The Home Minister and the top officials also reviewed the security situation across the country, particularly along the western border - from Punjab to Gujarat. Later, Mehbooba Mufti also met Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and discussed with him issues of Jammu and Kashmir pertaining to his Ministry.