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PDP spurns PM's call to attend meeting

india Updated: Jul 12, 2010 01:24 IST

The chances of breaking political ground in the troubled Kashmir Valley wore thin on Sunday, with the People's Democratic Party (PDP) declining to heed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's call to join the all-party meeting called by Omar Abdullah in Srinagar on Monday.

The PDP is of the view that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has done "nothing on the ground" to improve the security situation and start a dialogue with separatists.

Instead the party wants the Prime Minister to take a political initiative.

Singh had called PDP President Mehbooba Mufti on Saturday and advised her to attend the meeting.

Abdullah too spoke to Mehbooba and wrote to her, requesting the PDP leader to reconsider her decision.

"We are on the crossroads of a crucial phase in Kashmir and it's time for all of us to join hands and work together irrespective of our political beliefs," Abdullah said in his letter.

Mehbooba said at a press conference at her residence in Srinagar: "The PM called and advised (me) to attend the meeting. It was painful for me to convey to the Prime Minister that we can't as the state government was doing nothing on the ground. No initiative at the state level could defuse the crisis."

"A bigger and concrete political initiative from the Prime Minister is necessary to normalise the situation here," she said.

The immediate situation in Kashmir took a turn for the better on Sunday with curfew being withdrawn in the entire Valley. Curfew was clamped in Kashmir on July 6.

Fifteen youths have been killed in police and CRPF firings in the Valley since June 11.

"The government has demonised the entire population of Kashmir. It has failed its people and used excessive force against them," Mehbooba said.

Media curbs relaxed
Newspapers in Kashmir decided to resume publication after the state government said on Sunday that their demands would be met. The government had imposed restrictions on the media last week.

Also, Abdullah has assured the Editors' Guild of India that he would personally ensure that the case against TV journalist Suhail Bukhari was "settled amicably".

Bukhari, a NewsX reporter, was charged with waging war against the state after filing a report on a killing that turned out to be inaccurate. The report was withdrawn.

Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, principal secretary to the chief minister, had a meeting with representatives of media associations on their demands.

"They assured us that all our demands would be met and adequate curfew passes would be issued," said a representative of the Press Guild of Kashmir.