Special Correspondent

`Consensus among parties is a must'

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Wednesday that he would not allow any party to politicise the issue of reduction of troops in the State.

Mr. Azad, who along with CPI (M) State secretary M.Y. Tarigami addressed a public meeting at Kulgam in South Kashmir, made veiled attacks on his coalition partner People's Democratic Party.

He said the politics of appeasing militants and at the same time shedding tears over the killing of innocent people could not be allowed. "I don't believe in the politics of wiping common people's tears during the day and inviting militants home during the night."

On the reduction of troops, he said he initiated this process a year back and "no one will be allowed to politicise the issue." Mr. Azad, who is at "war" with the PDP over the issue said on Tuesday that a consensus among all political parties was a must and "nobody will be allowed to hijack the issue."

He said militants would be strictly dealt with; "Zero tolerance" did not mean that they would have a free hand. Mr. Azad said innocents would not be harmed and "those security force personnel who indulged in human rights violations would not be spared."

He invited the National Conference and the Hurriyat Conference to join the roundtable conference called by the Prime Minister. "It is a historic step taken by the Prime Minister in the last 60 years." He announced that after hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani recovered he would be invited for talks.

Mr. Tarigami urged Mr. Azad to take all politician leaders such as Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Shabir Shah and Syed Ali Geelani into confidence to find an amicable and permanent solution to the Kashmir problem.