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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Govt willing to hold talks with any group in Kashmir: PC

PTI  New Delhi, September 01, 2010
First Published: 18:36 IST(1/9/2010) | Last Updated: 18:37 IST(1/9/2010)

Government on Wednesday expressed its willingness to hold talks with "any group" from the Kashmir Valley wishing to come foward amid indications that it would be soon coming out with a series of measures to address the issue.

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"We hope to restart the dialogue process. We will talk to any group, any political party which is willing to talk to us," Union Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters while presenting a report card of his ministry for the month of August.

He was replying to questions on whether the Centre would kick-start political process of a dialogue with groups especially the separatists with violence showing signs of decline.

The Home Minister made it clear that the Central government was willing to talk to all sections of people in Jammu and Kashmir.

Sources in the Government have also indicated that a high-level meeting was scheduled in the next few days during which the Centre, in consultation with the state Government, will come out with specific meaures to address some issues which may bring relief to the people of the state.

This includes relocation of security forces, employment package for militants, who have served their sentences and were unemployed, and a fresh surrender policy.

In a related development, J and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who is in the national capital, also met the Home Minister and discussed the situation in the state.

During the meeting, Omar emphasised that the situation in the state should not be seen only as a law and order problem and that political initiatives should be taken at the earliest, sources said.

The Chief Minister urged Chidambaram to take steps in this direction at the earliest like amendments to Armed Forces Special Powers Act and announcing an employment package for its five lakh unemployed youths besides an employment package for surrendered and released militants, the sources said.

Omar said the time was ripe for the Centre to implement its assurance of having a political approach on Kashmir as stated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Home Minsiter himself on the floor of the Parliament, the sources said.

Earlier, Chidambaram was asked about his statement at the conference of Directors General and Inspectors General of Police that the dialogue would be started in "few days".

"I can't give a date. Few days means few days...Government hopes that it will be able to re-start the process of dialogue in the near future," he said.

Asked to comment on BJP's policy on Kashmir which has been demanding the scrapping of Article 370 in the Constitution that guarantees special status to the state, Chidambaram said the principal opposition party's policy on Jammu and Kashmir was well known.

"Government's policy on the state has been stated in more than one occasions by the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) and by me too. There are obviously differences between BJP and the UPA," he said.

The Home Minister said the UPA government had already declared its Kashmir policy and it would continue to pursue that policy. "We will pursue the policy we have declared and we believe that that policy is a right policy. It will bring in peace and order in Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

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