NEW DELHI

Give safe passage to Kashmiri youths in PoK: MLAs

`Peace process incomplete without the return of these people' Minister assurance to members, says Government has taken up issue with Centre

Shujaat Bukhari

SRINAGAR: Making out a strong case for giving a "safe passage'' to hundreds of Kashmiri youth waiting across the Line of Control, a number of MLAs on Wednesday urged the Union Government to facilitate their return to allow them to lead a peaceful life. CPI (M) Sstate secretary and MLA Kulgam M. Y. Tarigami, who moved a resolution in the State Assembly, maintained that the ongoing peace process was incomplete without the return of these youth who had been lured in early 1990s for acquiring arms and ammunition training in "Azad Kashmir''.

Stating that they were "our own children'', Mr Tarigami said that this would be a biggest confidence building measure in this process of reconciliation. He referred to "the complete change in the mind-set of the Pakistani Government" and said "when General Musharraf talks about peace why cannot these young people be allowed to return to their homes?''. "We have learnt through media reports that they want to return and lead a peaceful life so it should be taken up on priority'', he said.

Senior National Conference leader Ali Mohammad Sagar supporting the resolution traced back the history of trauma in Kashmir and said: "It has always been a game of betrayals and conspiracies against Kashmiris right from 1947''.

He disagreed with the view that ongoing "armed struggle'' had complete support of people and said: "It was aimed at targeting National Conference, the most popular political force of the state''. He said it was heartening to note that those who were talking about terrorism till yesterday were now talking about peace. "We want that these youth should be given safe passage as they live in miserable conditions in PoK", he said and added: "We have always been pro people and never wanted a senseless bloodshed in this State''.

Ruling PDP MLA Sartaj Madni hailed Mr Sagar's observations and said: "We are for honourable way out of the Kashmir problem. We support this resolution and urge Government of India to take immediate steps to facilitate the return of these youth who want to live a peaceful life.''

The discussion will continue on Thursday as the Speaker Tara Chand adjourned the house for the day. The Government assured the members that the issue would be taken on priority but Minister of State for Home A. R. Veeri later told THE HINDU that coalition Government had already taken up the issue with the Central Government.

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