The three interlocutors are making good progress, he says

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday said the contours of a political solution to the Kashmir problem are likely to emerge in the next few months.

Addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry here, he said the first and second reports of the group of interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir dealt with confidence-building measures. He had asked the group to focus on finding the contours of a political solution.

Mr. Chidambaram noted that the three interlocutors were making good progress and asserted that the Kashmir issue was a “political issue for which a political solution must be found.” Peace and good governance were prerequisites for reaching a political solution.

Violence in Jammu and Kashmir was of two types and a different approach was needed to deal with each one of them. “The violence perpetrated by militants and infiltrators must be dealt with in a strong and resolute manner. On the other hand, the violence witnessed during protests by residents of the State requires deft and sensitive handling,” he said.

After the Centre unveiled the eight-point Plan for Jammu and Kashmir, the situation there had improved considerably and the process must be strengthened. “Space must be allowed for peaceful protests. Governance and delivery on the ground must improve. Visible presence of security forces must be reduced,” he said.

Job opportunities

Members of the committee welcomed the steps taken by the government to improve the situation in the State. Some felt efforts must be made to evolve a political consensus on the issue at the national level. Members also emphasised need to create employment opportunities, especially for the educated youth. They also suggested amending the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and speedy rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants.

Responding to the suggestions, the Home Minister pointed out that two special task forces — one for Jammu and the other for Ladakh — were constituted to examine the developmental needs of these regions. The Prime Minister's Office has constituted an expert group under the chairmanship of C. Rangarajan to formulate a job plan for the State. It was expected that the reports of all these groups would be received by next month. Their recommendations could be considered by the government and factored in the next year budget.

AFSPA amendment

The Centre released a Special Plan Assistance of Rs.100 crore to the State for improving the infrastructure in schools and colleges.

On the AFSPA, Mr. Chidambaram said a proposal to amend the Act was being studied.

Pointing to the recent positive developments in the State, the Minister pointed out that 5,56,370 tourists visited the State this year up to December 6, showing an increase of about 25 per cent over the number in the corresponding period last year.