January 2003 News

Centre ready to talk to J&K terrorist outfits: Minister

31 January 2003
The Hindustan Times
Press Trust of India

Kozhikode: The Centre is prepared to hold talks with various terrorist outfits in Jammu and Kashmir to restore total peace in the valley, Union Minister of State for Home ID Swami said on Friday. 'Centre has been pursuing a definite strategy, including holding negotiations with different outfits, to make Kashmir a terrorist-free state,' he told a press meet here. At the same time, Swami said government would act sternly to curb terrorism in the state. Centre was keen to redress the grievances of the people, particularly the youth living in the valley, he said. Asked if the Mufti Mohammed Sayeed government, which came to power recently, was performing well compared to the previous one, Swami refused to make a comparison but said 'Centre will extend full support to the steps initiated by the Mufti government to end militancy in Kashmir.'Pant sets about another mission Kashmir? The likely interlocutor from the Centre for holding talks with separatists in Jammu and Kashmir is Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission KC Pant, who had been handling the job earlier. Maintaining a low profile, Pant has been discreetly holding talks with the think tank of J&K and trying to generate an opinion about starting his 'Mission Kashmir' afresh. Of late, Pant was reported to have held closed-door meetings with state Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed. During his recent visit to New Delhi, Mufti again held a meeting with Pant without aides and both the sides refused to divulge the points of discussions. According to sources, the Centre and the state government were silently working out the modalities for beginning the talks as Sayeed has been emphasising the need for an early exercise.


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