Back in Kashmir to set up summer capital in Srinagar, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Monday blew bugle of Kashmir being an unresolved problem and vows his support to any initiative aimed at its resolution.
“My government would facilitate (dialogue) at all levels in this direction. There is need for a positive movement by the Centre government in this direction so that both the internal and external dimensions of the (Kashmir) issue are focused,” said Abdullah, immediately after receiving the guard of honour at Srinagar’s Civil Secretariat.
Kashmir shuttles its capital between Jammu and Srinagar, the cities are 300 km apart, in winters and summers respectively. The shifting of capital is know as “Darbar Move”, owing its origin to monarch Hari Singh ruling of the state.
Expressing readiness to support initiatives on Kashmir, the chief minister expressed hope that “the dialogue process restarted between India and Pakistan in the last month would continue further.”
Refuting the charges of dragging his feat on the issue of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which provides impunity to the army during anti-militancy operations, Omar said, “Significant progress has taken place on the issue of revocation of the AFSPA from certain areas.”
The chief minister, however, was quick to add: “The final mile is yet to be crossed.”
Explaining his strategy to do away with the AFSPA, Omar said, “There were two ways for us to move forward on the subject – one to remain silent and the other to put the issue in public debate. We worked on the first but when it did not yield the result, we shifted to the public discussions and debate on the issue.”
The discussion, Omar claimed, is going on in New Delhi at both political and operational levels. “We will continue to work for it,” he said.
As the state is bracing up for the 2014 assembly polls, Omar is desperate to strike a chord with masses in Kashmir valley. Of late, the AFSPA has become an emotive issue though which Omar is trying to connect with the masses. After announcing its revocation last year, Omar is battling tough opposition from the defence ministry and the army officer working on the ground.
Omar cleared air around the issue of holding local body elections. “The elections would be conducted during the year 2012 by all means. I wanted to get these elections conducted as early as possible but due to early start of tourist season this year, the decision on this issue was delayed,” he said.
Omar also reached out to Pandits, who migrated from the valley when militancy broke out in 1990, saying “the government has put in place economic security programme for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants”.
The state government has taken up issue of enhancing assistance for construction of houses for Kashmiri migrant families from Rs 7 lakh to Rs 20 lakh with the Centre to construct houses.