Dismayed over the absence of an invitation to join the dialogue process to resolve the Kashmir problem, separatist leaders in the Valley were disappointed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Anantnag address.
In another part of the state, the Jammu-based Panthers’ Party and the BJP, usually critical of Congress policies, welcomed Singh’s tough stance on terror.
After inaugurating the Anantnag-Qazigund Rail Link on Wednesday, in his address, the Prime Minister said the Centre was ready to talk to those willing to giving up violence. “We are willing to talk to anyone who has any meaningful ideas for promoting peace and development in Kashmir,’’ Singh said.
“The Indian Prime Minister hasn’t come out with anything concrete,” said Nayeem Ahmad Khan, chairman of the National Front, a constituent of the moderate faction of the All Party Hurriyat Conference.
Khan said Home Minister P Chidambaram’s recent speech was more positive than the Prime Minister’s.
But separatist leaders are still expecting something from the PM’s press conference on Thursday, it appears. “Maybe tomorrow he will have something to say,” said Khan.
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani said the PM’s speech had vindicated his stand. “I have been saying he (the PM) has nothing to offer. Had he been serious about it he would have accepted Kashmir as a dispute.”
The response from Jammu was more positive. “He has
rightly appealed to misguided youth, lured by Pakistan, to
join the mainstream,” BJP legislative party leader Chaman Lal Gupta said.
The J&K National Panthers Party welcomed the PM’s statement but with a rider. Senior leader Harsh Dev Singh said: “The PM should utilise his visit to send out a strong message that all regions of the state including Jammu and Ladakh will get equitable representation.”
Refugees from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, settled in Jammu since 1947, observed the PM’s visit as virodh diwas (Protest Day).