Mahapanchayat on Kashmir

IN THE first initiative of its kind since the onset of militancy in Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened a round-table conference of leading Kashmiri politicians, including separatist leaders, on February 24.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 01:34 IST
JAY Raina
JAY Raina
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PM wants to listen to anyone with or without a view

IN THE first initiative of its kind since the onset of militancy in Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has convened a round-table conference of leading Kashmiri politicians, including separatist leaders, on February 24.

The conclave, that will look at possible solutions to the Kashmir imbroglio, will also be attended by the representatives of various organisations representing region-specific communities (like Kashmiri Pundits, Buddhists from Ladakh), NGOs active in Kashmir and other ethnic groups.

Sources said a list of around 50 people had been drawn up, comprising Kashmir-centric mainstream political parties like the Congress, National Conference, Peoples' Democratic Party, CPM and Panthers Party besides the moderate Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, Sajjad Lone's Peoples' Conference and Shabir Shah's Peoples' Democratic Party. Sources said the discussions were expected to be open-ended without any specific agenda. "The PM wants to hear from all the participants with an open mind," said a source.

"He is keen to seek cooperation from all the invitees for a return to normality."

Formal invitations are expected to be extended in a couple of days. Since the PM will be busy in Parliament that day — Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav will be presenting the railway budget -- the conference is expected to begin in the afternoon.

J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who met the prime minister on Monday, is said to have been informed about the Centre's latest move.

The proposed conference comes at a time when the prime minister has invited JKLF chief Yasin Malik for talks on Friday. Last September, he had met the leaders of the moderate Hurriyat.

First Published: Feb 15, 2006 01:34 IST