The Prime Minister on Tuesday appealed to youth in the Kashmir Valley to exchange stones for jobs and an education.
In a fresh move to salvage the situation, the PM announced a six-member expert group to create a job-generation plan for the Valley’s youth. The group has been given a three-month deadline and has top talent from the private sector, including Infosys founder NR Narayanamurthy.
The PM also stressed on the need for "dialogue and reconciliation" at a meeting of principal political parties from the state, which was telecast live.
"Let us make a new beginning. I appeal to the youth to go back to their schools and colleges and allow classes to resume," Singh said, addressing a meeting of the political parties from the state, which was telecast live on television channels.
Singh said the recent events in Kashmir had caused him great pain and he understood the anger and frustration that was bringing the young people on to the streets, but he made it clear that violence must end. "We must ensure no innocent life is lost again," the PM said.
He also boosted the morale of the security forces, saying J&K police and paramilitary forces "are performing an extremely challenging task in difficult circumstances", and hinted that the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) will not be tinkered with.
The meeting was attended by many central ministers and state chief minister, Omar Abdullah. Main opposition party in the state, the People’s Democractic Party (PDP) stayed away from the meeting. BJP agreed to participate after the intervention of union ministers P Chidambarm and Farooq Abdullah. But the Prime Minister set the tone for dialogue that is likely to reach out to those who declined to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
During the four-hour-long meeting, leaders of different parties gave their suggestions on resolving the present crisis.
There was a minor argument between J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah and Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh when he demanded more security for his workers.
Bhim Singh also demanded dismissal of Abdullah and imposition of governor’s rule as “he has lost the acceptability” of the people of the state. The BSP supported his demand.
CPM’s MY Tarigami said the “current crisis has assumed much bigger proportions” while Democratic Party Nationalist chief Ghulam Hassan Mir said there are external and internal dimensions to the issue and these need to be addressed.
Partly hailing the PM’s speech, separatist political parties said it fell “short of expectation on political front.”
Moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman said India was only interested in peace. “Hurriyat is for a permanent solution to the Kashmir dispute. New Delhi should show some clarity on the dispute. Kashmir is political problem rooted in right to self-determination,” said the Mirwaiz.
Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani described the PM's statement as “insignificant as it shows no seriousness on the part of Delhi to resolve the Kashmir dispute”.