The Congress core committee on Kashmir began a meeting in New Delhi on Friday to discuss the volatile situation in the valley, amidst indications that the government may announce an Eid peace package for the violence-hit state.
The meeting, which began at 5 p.m. at 7 Race Course Road, the official residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was continuing, sources said.
Besides Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, senior leaders Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Congress general secretary in charge of Jammu and Kashmir Prithviraj Chavan and political secretary to Sonia Gandhi Ahmed Patel are attending the meeting.
Prominent party leaders from the state -- party chief Saifuddin Soz, former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and former union minister Karan Singh -- are also attending.
According to Congress circles, the party core committee is to propose suggestions for a peace package, to be announced by the government.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah met Manmohan Singh Wednesday and requested revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFPSA) at least from a few districts of the state.
Abdullah met Mukherjee and Antony on Thursday and discussed the situation in the troubled state.
According to official sources, the peace package is likely to include:
- Revocation of the AFSPA from the districts of Srinagar and Badgam in Kashmir, and from Jammu and Ramban in Jammu region. Now all the districts of the state are placed under the act.
- Special compensation for the families of the 69 civilians killed in firing by security forces during the past three months.
- Jobs and rehabilitation for surrendered militants.
- An employment package for the educated unemployed.
- Release of arrested youths and withdrawal of several cases related to stone-pelting.
The central government will repeat its intention to begin a dialogue with "all shades of opinion in Jammu and Kashmir", the sources said.
Sending an all-party parliamentary delegation to the violence-hit state may also be discussed.
Political circles have been hinting at a relief package to be announced on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr on Saturday.
At least 69 civilians, mostly teenagers and young men, have been killed in firing by security forces on stone-pelting street protesters since June 11.
The cycle of violence has led to frequent shutdowns and curfew in the valley for the past three months.