NATIONAL

Tarigami urges steps to isolate militants in J&K

JAMMU APRIL 9. The People's Democratic Forum legislator and CPI(M) leader, Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, has asked the Centre to take urgent measures for starting a dialogue with the people of Jammu and Kashmir to isolate the militants. Failure to do so would fitter away the gains that the recent changes in the democratic set-up had brought about.

Talking to The Hindu here, Mr. Tarigami said: " The status quo will not work and the Government should find an acceptable formula through political dialogue, which has already been initiated by the Centre with N.N. Vohra as interlocutor. Political crisis demands an immediate resolution so that a change in atmosphere, which is already there, is further promoted. The just-concluded elections have given hope to the people." "The recent spurt in the killings is an indicator of frustration. But the killings of innocents have only further isolated those who are propagating violence for settling political disputes. It is time the Centre and the State Government intervened and took bold initiatives to redress the grievances of the people.''

Queried on the various steps for resolution of the problem, he said: "Autonomy is one of the options, provided it takes care of the aspirations of all the three regions and of all ethnic groups within the regions. Elections have proved that none can be the exclusive representative of the people of the three regions. We have to sit together and arrive at a mutually acceptable formula. Obviously, we need to do a good deal of homework at the State level before demanding anything from the Centre.'' At the same time, the PDF leader called upon the Centre to send a clear message that it was "serious'' and "sincere'' about the talks and in evolving a "credible mechanism'' for a sustained process.

Mr. Tarigami, defending the `healing touch' policy of the State Government, said: "Most of the people are innocent and we have to win them back. Militants from across the border have to be dealt with strongly. The healing touch policy was meant to restore the shattered confidence of the people in terms of governance. This does not mean that the Government should not deal firmly with vested interests."