Excerpts from the interview:
How do you view the Centre's decision to accept your proposal on surrender and rehabilitation of militants returning from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)?
It's a welcome step. I think the home minister has understood the sensitivity of the situation. It's time for the process (of reconciliation) to begin. Earlier, many returnees were coming via Nepal and Bangladesh (using false documents) and there were legal complications. Now, we will put in place a legal system that will make their return open and transparent.
Will it help improve the situation in Kashmir?
It will boost the confidence of the people in our system. But more than that, it will address the question of disappearances, which were being used as a tool (to criticize the government) by human rights bodies. When these "disappeared persons" start reappearing, the questions (that these activists have raised) will disappear.
What role will the state government play in this process?
We will identify the persons, their domicile and monitor their entry. More importantly, we will facilitate their reintegration into the mainstream. This is as important as their return and surrender as it will ensure that the benefits of the process are not lost midway.
Why have you suddenly raised this demand for a general amnesty for militants?
I had been articulating this demand ever since I returned from Islamabad after meeting the then Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf in March 2006. Many young people (Kashmiris) had met me there saying they wished to return home. I have only articulated these views as chief minister.
Some people the situation in the Valley is deteriorating all over again. What is your opinion?
That's a wrong impression being spread. We had a problem in five police stations in Srinagar and five police stations do not constitute the Valley. The rest of the Valley was calm and unaffected. I stand for zero tolerance to human rights violations. We have demonstrated that by getting the accused of the killing of Zahid Farooq (the teenager killed by BSF personnel) booked under the law of the land. That was the fastest ever investigation over the last 20 years. It concluded within four days. That should tell you a story.