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PM walks careful ground in J&K

The Prime Minister’s two-day low-key visit to Kashmir ended on Tuesday, with Manmohan Singh focusing on the state’s development, and refraining from any grand political gesture.

india Updated: Jun 09, 2010 00:49 IST
HT Correspondent

The Prime Minister’s two-day low-key visit to Kashmir ended on Tuesday, with Manmohan Singh focusing on the state’s development, and refraining from any grand political gesture.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah got a pat on the back for transparency in development works under the Prime Minister’s reconstruction plan, a day after Singh said the state had infrastructure-related problems that needed to be solved.

Singh also promised more jobs for the Valley’s youngsters. But many Kashmiris, especially the separatist leaders, were hoping the Centre would come up with something more concrete on the political front.

“I wish to say again today that we are willing to talk to anyone who has any meaningful ideas for promoting peace and development in Kashmir,” the Prime Minister said on Tuesday. “We want to carry all sections of the people with us in resolving the political and economic problems of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Singh on Monday had said the Centre was ready for talks with those who shun violence.

“We have been advocating talks between the three parties all along, but the ground realities have to change,’’ said moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

“India’s Kashmir policy is ambiguous, and the approach needs to be more positive,’’ said the Mirwaiz, who in a press release reiterated his demands for troop withdrawal and revocation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA).

JKLF president Yasin Malik said Kashmir was “not a territorial dispute between the two countries”.

He refused to comment on Singh’s offer of talks for those who shun violence. “The offer is not for me. I am a non-violent person,” he said. Even representatives of political parties who met the Prime Minister on

Monday wanted him to offer more. “Punishing a few people doesn’t solve the problem. On one hand we say militancy is on the decline but encounters are reported every day,” said PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.