Union Minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday asked Hurriyat leaders to accept the Centre’s invitation for talks “in the interest of Kashmiris”, saying that dialogue is the only way out to resolve the Kashmir issue.

“I appeal to Hurriyat leaders to accept the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and be part of the dialogue process in the interest of Kashmiris,” Mr. Abdullah, also the president of ruling National Conference, said addressing a public meeting at Shopian, 55 km from here.

“People of Kashmir are peace-loving and do not believe in violence. It is our obligation to respect these sentiments of the people,” the Union Minister said.

“Our youth are victims of unemployment and they are searching for avenues,” he said, adding “If the dialogue is not the way for solution of Kashmir issue, then how this issue could be solved?”

Referring to the double murder of 17-year-old Asiya and her 22-year-old sister-in-law Nelofar jan in May this year, Abdullah demanded that the killers be identified and brought to justice.

“They were our daughters, daughters of the nation,” he said and expressed hope that the state government will extend all support to CBI in identifying the culprits so that the families of the victims get justice.

Referring to the ongoing construction of Mughal road, the alternate link between Kashmir and rest of the country, Abdullah said the completion of the road will help address the backwardness of Shopian district.

“The construction of Mughal road was started by Sher-e-Kashmir Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah... During my tenure as Chief Minister, I had left no stone unturned for completion of the road but the real delay in its construction was due to the turmoil,” Abdullah said.

“Now Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was keen to see the completion of the road..,” he said, adding its completion will pave the way for development of tourism sector and enhance fruit industry in Shopian.

“It will also help generate employment avenues to the youth,” he said.

Abdullah said “non-availability of electricity and water are the grave problems affecting the people and the state government has taken effective measures to address the problems.”

Advocating use of solar lights, the Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy said the Centre is providing 90 per cent assistance to promote its use and even allotting full assistance in certain areas.

“The state is getting huge funds from Centre and it is now the responsbility of the government employees to use these funds judiciously..,” Mr. Abdullah said.

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