Interlocutor appointed to hold dialogue with all stakeholders, he is not here for sightseeing’ | Doesn’t rule out possibility of extending truce
Just minutes after he came out of a meeting with top security officials of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh left no one in doubt about the BJP government’s resolve to engage in peace talks
Talking to the media at SKICC, he said New Delhi was all for a solution to the Kashmir problem and it in no way wanted to “keep issues lingering on for a long time.” Conveying the government’s willingness to initiate a process of dialogue with various stakeholders, he said: “It is not necessary to be like-minded to hold talks but it is compulsory to be right-minded. There is so much in this sentence.”
Singh arrived here this morning on a two day visit to J&K to take a review of the security situation in the wake of the government of India’s decision to halt anti-militancy operation during the ongoing month of Ramdhan.
Singh said while New Delhi was ready to talk with all people, he said special representative Dineshwar Sharma has been appointed for holding dialogue with all stakeholders. “He has not been appointed for sightseeing. He has come here 11 times so far,” Singh said.
In an apparent shift in the government of India’s Kashmir policy, Singh had told a news channel in New Delhi on May 26 that the government was ready to engage in talks with the separatists. The separatist leadership on its part had not rejected the suggestion of talks out of hand but had asked for more clarity on the nature of discussions that New Delhi was hinting at. They had shown irritation at the way several ministers of the BJP government in New Delhi had made statements contradicting each other. Today, Singh made it clear that statements from only Prime Minister Narendra Modi and him on Kashmir should be “accepted”.
“I have made a categorical statement on talks with (Hurriyat) and I think there is no need to repeat it,” Singh responded to a question on whether the government would engage. “Nothing more on this. Whosoever wants to talk, the dialogue can take place on table only.”
Without naming anybody, Singh said some forces were exploiting youth in J&K. “This is a matter of great concern. They don’t want situation should improve. Do these people want that youth of J&K should only play with fire and have stones in their hands? We should not exploit their innocence and we shouldn’t play with their future,” Singh said.
The home minister appealed to “those forces” to consider children of J&K as their own children. “Play whatever politics you want to but don’t play with future of children of J&K,” Singh said.
He said the children of J&K were not only future of the state but of India as well, stating that people of India have “emotional attachment” with them. “The children of J&K are not only asset of the state but entire country. That is why we decided to withdraw cases against 10,000 stone throwing youth who were first time offenders,” said Singh.
Singh said the state was full of talent and youth from the state have been cracking prestigious exams like IAS and IIT and excelling in sports as well. He said more than 85 sportsmen have won gold medalist from J&K. “I saw Tajamul Islam (kick-boxing champion) at Indoor stadium. What a talent she is,” Singh said, and appealed to appeal to support in peace building in J&K “lest we might lose another generation of the state to darkness”.
Recalling former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s oft repeated statement about Jamhooriyat (democracy), Kashmiriyat and Insaaniat (humanity), Singh asked: “those who are wielding the gun, do they believe in democracy.”
He said Prime Minister, from the ramparts of Red Fort, had said that the solution to the Kashmir problem can’t be achieved through bullets but by embracing people.
“And when we talk about Kashmiriyat it includes Hazratbal as well as Amarnath,” Singh said.
The minister said New Delhi has taken several measures for augmenting the strength of security forces in J&K and creating new job opportunities for youth. He said Rs 174 crore have been given for the restoration of police stations in J&K, and another Rs 500 crore has been provided for the acquisition of high-end weapons, adding the union government has hiked monthly remuneration of Special Police Officers (SPOs) from Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000.
The minister said that over 3800 youth have been recruited in paramilitary forces, 7,302 youth in Army and 5,381 youth in five new IRP battalions raised in the state. He said the government of India has also sanctioned two women police battalions for the state for increasing the representation of females in the forces.
In the morning, Singh made a visit to the Sher-i-Kashmir Indoor Stadium in the city and said that the centre had decided to withdraw cases against those youth “misled into stone pelting”. “Children can make mistakes. That is why we decided to withdraw the cases against those children who were involved in stone pelting.”