The government on Wednesday expressed its willingness to hold talks with “any group” from the Kashmir Valley that wishes to come forward, amid indications that it would soon be coming out with a series of measures to address the issue.
“We hope to restart the dialogue process. We will talk to any group, any political party which is willing to talk to us,” Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters while presenting a report card of his Ministry for the month of August. He was replying to questions on whether the Centre would kick-start dialogue with groups, especially the separatists, with violence showing signs of decline.
Sources in the government have also indicated that a high-level meeting was scheduled in the next few days during which the Centre, in consultation with the State government, will come out with specific measures to address some issues which may bring relief to the people of the State. This includes relocation of security forces, employment package for militants, who have served their sentences and were unemployed, and a fresh surrender policy.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is in the national capital, also met the Home Minister and discussed the situation in the State. During the meeting, Mr. Abdullah emphasised that the situation in the State should not be seen only as a law and order problem and that political initiatives should be taken at the earliest, sources said.
The Chief Minister urged Mr. Chidambaram to take steps in this direction like amendments to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, employment packages for its five lakh unemployed youth and for surrendered and released militants, the sources said.
Mr. Abdullah said the time was now ripe for the Centre to implement its assurance of having a political approach on Kashmir, as stated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Home Minister on the floor of the Parliament, the sources said.
Earlier, Mr. Chidambaram was asked about his statement at the conference of Directors General and Inspectors General of Police that the dialogue would be initiated in a “few days”. “I can’t give a date. Few days means few days...Government hopes that it will be able to re-start the process of dialogue in the near future,” he said.
Asked to comment on the BJP’s policy on Kashmir, Mr. Chidambaram said, “Government’s policy on the State has been stated on more than one occasion by the Prime Minister and by me too. There are obviously differences between BJP and the UPA,” he said.
The Home Minister said the UPA government had already declared its Kashmir policy and would continue to pursue that policy. “We will pursue the policy we have declared and we believe that that policy is a right policy. It will bring in peace and order in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.