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Peace will return if people treated well: Mufti

The new leader of Kashmir, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, said Monday that peace would return to the violence-torn region if the people are treated well. Sayeed took power on November 2 and immediately vowed to provide a "healing touch" by releasing prisoners and reining in security forces. "If people are treated well and justice dispensed, peace will gradually dawn on the state," Sayeed said.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2002 18:47 IST

The new leader ofKashmir, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, said Monday that peace would return to the violence-torn region if the people are treated well.

Sayeedtook poweron November 2 and immediately vowed to provide a "healing touch" by releasing prisoners and reining in security forces.

"If people are treated well and justice dispensed, peace will gradually dawn on the state," Sayeed said in a statement Monday.

"There will be hardly any scope for elements inimical to peace to exploit the masses."

Kashmir, once a popular tourist destination, has been ravaged for 13 years by an Islamic insurgencythat has left more than 37,500 dead. Separatists put the death toll twice as high.

Sayeedsaid he did not immediately shake up the state administration, as is traditional in India, because he was waiting to see "the performance of each officer."

But he said he was committed to a "clean administration" that would "be accountable at all the levels."

"The change must be reflected at the ground level for which the people have voted vehemently in the recent elections," he said.

The long-ruling National Conference was swept out of power during the September 16-October 8 election, with the opposition accusing the dynastic party of corruption.

Sayeed, a former Indian home minister, is heading a coalition with India's main opposition Congress. The National Conference was an ally of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's BJP party.

First Published: Nov 11, 2002 18:47 IST