Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the process of finding a solution to the problems of Jammu and Kashmir had entered a new chapter, and hoped that his offer of talks would be reciprocated.

Before concluding his two-day visit to the Kashmir Valley, he told a news conference that the UPA government was committed to working for a peaceful resolution of all problems. “I believe a new chapter is opening in the peace process in the State and we are turning the corner.” Both external and internal dimensions of the problems would be addressed.

Dr. Singh said his visit was fruitful. “We took stock of the development efforts in various sectors and discussed ways and means to expedite the implementation of various Central government projects.”

Reiterating his offer of dialogue with separatists, he said: “We are willing to engage in serious discussions with every group, provided they shun the path of violence …I made an appeal yesterday [Wednesday] for dialogue, and I hope it will be reciprocated in the spirit in which it was made. We have to carry all stakeholders with us to achieve a permanent and peaceful reconciliation in Jammu and Kashmir, so that we can concentrate on an ambitious development agenda that will lead to a full economic revival and reconstruction.”

To a question on Hurriyat Conference (moderate) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq justifying the role of gun, Dr. Singh said, “I think one should not read two much into statements made in anger,” adding, “We will respond favourably” to all those who had goodwill for the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Addressing personnel of the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the Jammu and Kashmir police in the morning, Dr. Singh said, “The responsibility of maintaining law and order will increasingly devolve on the police. I commend the brave and heroic efforts of the security forces under very adverse circumstances. We have raised the standards of accountability and transparency in their working to enhance public trust and confidence.”

Over the past few years, the Union government had committed unprecedented resources to the State for development. “I am particularly happy that I was able to inaugurate the rail link between Anantnag and Qazigund. This was a long-standing aspiration of the people, and I am confident that the link will open new horizons in the development of the State.”

Monitoring group

The power sector was critical for the State’s growth. The Union Power Ministry would set up a special monitoring group for the sector in the State.

“I have assured the State government that the government of India will allocate to the State up to 500 MW in the winter months, depending on the load pattern and the emergent requirements. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has prepared a renewable energy plan for the Ladakh region to minimise the use of kerosene, diesel and firewood.”