Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday that the Narendra Modi government was ready to engage Kashmiri separatists in a dialogue process but there would be no compromise on India’s Constitution and sovereignty.
“We are willing to talk to anybody who wants to function within the framework of India’s Constitution and sovereignty. These are two issues with which there can be no compromise,” Mr. Jaitley said to a question whether the Centre was willing to talk to the separatists.
Mr. Jaitley refused comment when a journalist referred to the recent statement of Jitendra Singh, BJP leader from Jammu and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, on a re-look at Article 370. “I have not come here to discuss these issues,” he said.
Mr. Jaitley made it clear that the return and rehabilitation of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits was high on the agenda of the Modi government. “All political groups in the Valley support the idea of return and rehabilitation. You will have to wait for a few days to allow us to announce further policy measures.”
‘No decision now on revoking AFSPA’
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday the ceasefire on the Line of Control and the International Border was the “biggest CBM” (confidence building measure) between India and Pakistan. Referring to recent incidents of exchange of gunfire on the border, he said ceasefire violation from the other side was continuing. There could be no forward movement without respect for the 2003 ceasefire.
He was speaking to the media after visiting the Uri sector and holding his first interaction with jawans and officers at the Rustam Post on the LoC in northern Kashmir.
Responding to a question whether the Centre would consider revoking the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) in the State in view of the improved security scenario, the Minister said any decision would depend on the progress in the situation in the State over a period of time. “As far as today the situation is concerned, our armed forces and local security forces have been handling the situation. Over the period of time, we have to watch how the situation progresses,” he told reporters here.