Singh committed to pursuing Kashmir CBMs
4 December 2007
The Daily Times
New Delhi: Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has expressed commitment to implement recommendations of the working groups for a host of confidence-building measures (CBMs) in Jammu and Kashmir. The recommendations of the working groups include revocation of black laws, a general amnesty to political prisoners and those held under minor offences, facilitating the return of youth who had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) to join militancy, faster travel permits, new bus routes and trade relations across the LoC. The reports authored by two working groups led by current Vice President Hamid Ansari and former foreign secretary MK Rasgotra were adopted at the third roundtable conclave on Kashmir chaired by the prime minister last April. Dr Singh conveyed assurance of his commitment to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti, when she called on him here on Monday evening. He told Mehbooba that he was personally keen to see the recommendations of the working group being implemented at the earliest. Non-implementation of recommendations: Earlier, the PDP president complained that no steps were being taken towards the implementation of the working group recommendations since they were adopted last April. She cautioned that the delay was brewing public cynicism thereby proving detrimental to peace efforts. Delaying the implementation of these recommendations has put a question mark over the veracity of the whole exercise, Mehbooba told Dr Singh. She called for launching a comprehensive programme for the rehabilitation of all victims of violence irrespective of their affiliation. She said given the social and economic plight of the violence-affected families, such measures have become necessary. Troops occupying buildings: Welcoming the steps taken by the Government of India of vacating school and hospital buildings from troops, Mehbooba said it should be the beginning of thinning out the strength of troops from the state. She told the prime minister that at many places security forces continue occupying schools, hospitals and other government and private buildings. She also sought his intervention for the transfer of unused defence land for development purposes. She said the inordinate delay in the transfer of land by the defence ministry to the civilian authorities for development purposes is hampering the development of vital projects. She referred instances of developing a shopping complex at Sonamarg and the south campus of the Kashmir University, which have got stuck due to procedural delays in transferring the land from the army. The PDP president told reporters that she had also raised the issue of Kashmiri youth languishing in various jails outside the state. She demanded details and whereabouts of such youth and review of their cases. She said the prime minister had assured her of taking up these issues at an appropriate level.