Urging the Centre to have a re-look at the ban on pre-paid mobile service, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday said Jammu and Kashmir should not be treated separately as there were other States experiencing violence as well.

“The general population should not suffer,” Mr. Abdullah told a news conference. “I have always held this view that Jammu and Kashmir should not be treated separately in such cases as this is not the only State which is facing violence. Why the ban in Jammu and Kashmir only?”

However, Mr. Abdullah added that he would take up the issue with the Centre keeping in view both the requirements and the fact that the “security of the State is not jeopardised.”

The Chief Minister blamed service providers for punishing the general public. “The only people who are at fault are service providers as they are only a handful and have not done the job of verification.” The BSNL, he added, had done a better job than private service providers in this regard.

Mr. Abdullah said the Centre had sounded the State as “we were told that something was contemplated, but even at that time we had advised that this measure would punish genuine users.”

On his strong reaction to the Service team’s refusal to play cricket in Srinagar, Mr. Abdullah said: “I was very measured in what I said. Their decision was very short-sighted and highly unfortunate.”

‘Quiet diplomacy’

Adding that the security situation in the State had improved a lot, Mr. Abdullah said “quiet diplomacy” would help in moving forward on the Kashmir issue and that talks held away from the media glare would always benefit. Stability in Pakistan, he added, was good for Jammu and Kashmir.

Commenting on the Army Commander’s statement terming the unrest in Kashmir “agitational terrorism,” Mr. Abdullah said: “It is an agitational mindset. I certainly would not combine these two. You can weigh two things of stone throwing and someone holding AK-47 equally. They have a convergence of interests.”

The Chief Minister also took a dig at the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), saying it was desperate. The National Conference (NC)-Congress coalition was going on smoothly.

Mr. Abdullah welcomed the Hurriyat Conference’s change in mindset as made out from the remark of the former Hurriyat chairman, Abdul Gani Bhat that it was ready to sit with the PDP and the NC to work out a joint formula on Kashmir. “Earlier, they refused to sit in Round Table Conferences chaired by the Prime Minister, and if they want to sit with us it is a change,” he said.