25 Sep : Announcing a eight-point Kashmir formula, the Centre on Saturday said a Group of Interlocutors led by an eminent persons will hold “sustained dialogue” with all sections of Jammu and Kashmir and also review deployment of security forces in the Valley, especially in Srinagar.
Unveiling a package of measures approved by the Cabinet Committee of Security(CCS) at its meeting in a bid to deal with the civil unrest in the Kashmir Valley, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the state Government will be advised to review the notification of areas as “Disturbed Areas”.
The unrest has claimed the lives of 105 persons since 10th June.
The 30-minute CCS meeting was presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Briefing reporters after the meeting on Saturday, Chidambaram did not elaborate whether the review of the Disturbed Areas notification was a prelude to any phased withdrawal of the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain areas of the Valley.
J& K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah welcomed the Centre’s initiative saying it is a positive development and must lead to a resolution to all political issues of Jammu and Kashmir.
The CCS decisions were taken after it reviewed the situation in the Valley and considered the report of the recent visit of the 36-member all-party delegation to J and K submitted by Chidambaram, who had led the team.
In a bid to reach out to the masses, the Centre also advised the J&K government to release students and youth who have been arrested or detained for stone pelting and similar violations of law during the Valley unrest, and withdraw all charges against them.
The state governmetn has also been advised to review cases of all Public Safety Act(PSA) detenues and withdraw detention orders in appropriate cases.
“Government will appoint a Group of Interlocutors under the Chairmanship of an eminent person to begin the process of sustained dialogue with political parties, groups, students, civil society,” Chidambaram said.
However, he did not say the exact composition of the group and skirted the question and said “it can be either one plus two or one plus three…we will see.”
The CCS decided to advice the state government to immediately convene a meeting of the Unified Command and review the deployment of the security forces in Kashmir valley, especially at Srinagar, with particular reference to descale bunkers and check points in the summer capital and other towns, the Home Minister said.
Chidambaram said Government will grant ex-gratia of Rs five lakh to the family of each of those killed in civil disturbances in Kashmir since 11th June.
The all-party team had met many delegations in the Valley who had laid a special stress on reducing the presence of security forces at least in Srinagar and other major towns.
Sources said if the state Government decides to withdraw the disturbed area act from some areas, the AFSPA will have to go automatically.
On the issue of releasing people detained during the unrest, Chidambaram made it clear that there were only 245 people arrested or detained by the state government out of whom 84 were in judicial custody, 110 in police custody and 51 detained under the PSA.
With education taking a hit during the three-and-a-half month unrest, the Centre requested the state government to take steps to immediately reopen all schools, colleges and universities.
Special classes should be also conducted and efforts should be made to ensure examinations are conducted on schedule for the current academic year, the home minister said.
Chidamabram said a Rs 100 crore additional central assistance would be made available to the state government for improving infrastructure in educational institutions.
As part of the eight-point initiative, Chidambaram said two Special Task Forces–one each for Jammu region and Ladakh region–will be appointed to examine the developmental needs of the two regions, with particular reference to deficiencies in infrastructure and make suitable recommendations.
Later in a brief interaction with the reporters, Chidambaram refused to take any questions on AFSPA and said “let the state government first conduct the review.”
On being asked if the disturbed areas act was withdrawn by the Unified Headquarters, will that lead to a similar fate to AFSPA, Chidambaram said “I cannot say. I will have to wait for review.”
He said as a matter of “prudence and past practice”, the Unified Command advises the state government before a discussion with the Centre could begin.
Omar welcomes Centre’s 8-point Kashmir initiative
Welcoming the Centre’s eight-point initiative for Jammu and Kashmir, CM Omar Abdullah has said it was a positive development which should lead to resolving the political issues of the state.
“The Centre’s Kashmir formula is a positive development and must lead to a resolution to all political issues of Jammu and Kashmir,” Omar told reporters in New Delhi on Saturday.
The Chief Minister said work on some of the issues announced after the CCS had already begun and expressed the hope that the schools and colleges will reopen from Monday and students booked for stone-pelting will be released soon.
On convening of the Unified Headquarters meeting, he said it will be done sometime next week during which a thorough discussion on decreasing the footprint of security forces in main towns, including Srinagar, will be discussed besides withdrawal of “disturbed areas” act in few places would be discussed.
“While saying so, I would not build hope that results will be expected in the first meeting itself. It may take time and there may be many rounds before arriving at a consensus,” he said.
While acknowledging the role of the army, Omar made it clear that “the view point of the army cannot be ignored but at the same time, their view point cannot be accepted unilaterally”.
Omar said the Centre’s eight-point initiative was a positive development and the appointment of interlocutors to start dialogue with civil society was a welcome step.
He said he understood his responsibilities as the chief minister of the state and he would try his best to take forward the Centre’s formula and do the needful on the behalf of the state government.