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  • PM urges for end to cycle of violence in JK; constitutes high-level empoly expert group

    Published on August 11, 2010

    Unveiling a fresh initiative to address the unrest in Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday urged the people there to “give peace a chance” and promised a sustained “internal and external” dialogue.

    In his first public comments on the recent trouble in the Valley that has resulted in the death of nearly 50 people, Dr Singh utilised a meeting with political parties from the state to reach out directly to the youth who are in the forefront of the current agitation.

    Prime Minister expressed grief over natural calamity in Kashmir and the Ladakh region and offered his condolences. 

    PM said Government will continue to provide relief and other assistance and help the State Government in providing rehabilitation for all those affected by the unfortunate natural disaster in Ladakh. The whole country is with the people of J&K in their hour of sorrow.

    In remarks telecast live to a national audience, the Prime Minister spoke of “great pain” caused to him by the events in Kashmir and said, “I share the grief, the sorrow and the sense of loss of every mother, every father, every family and every child in Kashmir”.

    “Let us make a new beginning,” he urged and said, ” I appeal to the youth to go back to their schools and colleges and allow classes to resume. I ask their parents what future is there for Kashmir if your children are not educated?”

    At the same time, Dr Singh made it clear that the cycle of violence must now come to an end. It was the Government’s duty to maintain law and order, and “we cannot allow the turmoil to continue”.

    The Prime Minister spoke of the “challenging task” being performed by the state police and other security forces, noting that many of them had been seriously injured in the past few weeks.

    Telling to the people of Kashmir that the cycle of violence must come to an end and that peace should be given a chance, the Prime Minister said he recognised that “the key to the problem is a political solution that addresses the alienation and emotional needs of the people.”

    “This can only be achieved through a sustained internal and external dialogue. We are ready for this. We are willing to discuss all issues within the bounds of our democratic processes and framework. But this process can gather momentum and yield results only if there is a prolonged peace,” he said.

    He said he understood the prevailing public sentiment on the issue of the Armed forces Special Powers Act. “Eventually the Police has to take on the burden of normal law and order duties. They do not require special powers to discharge their functions.”

    “We will help to accelerate the process of strengthening and expanding the state Police so that they can function independently and effectively within the shortest possible time,” he said.

    Underlining that the state government and the Chief Minister were making contacts with the people, the Prime Minister said the central government was fully supportive of these efforts which should be intensified.

    “I believe that all of you have the solemn duty of reaching out to the people and reinvigorating peaceful political activity on the ground, which is lacking today.

    “The youth wings of your parties should be activated. In a democracy leaders have to listen to the voice of the people and gain their trust and confidence,” he said.

    Dr Singh said there were elements trying to weaken the resolve of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and trying to undermine their lawful efforts.

    “I urge the state government to take effective action to protect its policemen and their families. We should not do anything to demoralise the security forces,” he said.

    The Prime Minister said local body elections should be held early to increase people’s participation in democratic governance and to ensure political empowerment at the grassroots level.

    “I would urge you to build a consensus on a practical and realisable vision of Jammu and Kashmir’s future. And the people have to be convinced that this future has to be grounded in political and economic realities of our time,” he said.

    The Prime Minister endorsed the statement by young MPs of all parties to the youth in Kashmir to exercise restraint and have trust in the power of dialogue.

    Dr Singh also announced setting up of an expert group under the chairmanship of noted economist Dr C Rangarajan to formulate a jobs plan for the state involving public and private sectors. It will submit its report within three months.

    The group, which will also have Infosys founding Chairman N R Narayana Murthy, President Aspen Institute and former Chief Mentor, CII, Tarun Das, President of the Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir Shaqueel Qalander, P Nanda Kumar and a representative of Jammu and Kashmir Government, will submit its report in three months.

    “Based on the experience gained, I am proposing to set up an Expert Group headed by Dr C Rangarajan with N R Narayana Murthy, Tarun Das, P Nanda Kumar, Shaqueel Qalander and an official representative of the J and K Government as members to formulate a Jobs Plan for the State, involving both the public and the private sectors,” the Prime Minister said.

    Dr Singh said the group will also interact with the National Skill Development Mission.

    “But to show results of such efforts on the ground, you will have to engage actively with the youth and give them the sense of purpose, hope and direction they need to make use of the many opportunities that our economy provides,” he said.

    Central Ministers Pranab Mukherjee, A K Antony, P Chidambaram, S M Krishna and Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah were present at the meeting at the Prime Minister’s House. The state’s main opposition PDP and BJP kept away.

    Among those participating from the state included National Conference President Farooq Abdulla, CPM leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, Independent MLAs Ghulam Hasan Mir.