Freeing Prisoners May Be First CBM For J&K23 September 2010
The Economic Times
New Delhi: Some confidence-building measures (CBMs) to bring respite to the people of J&K may be spelled out by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) when it considers the report of the all-party delegation here early next week. Political prisoners and local Kashmiri youth arrested for stone-pelting may be released by the state government. There is also a move to reduce the quantum of central forces in residential localities of Srinagar and other parts of the Valley and reduce their visibility in the eyes of the general public. “The emphasis is to ensure that we don’t lose the momentum of the current healing exercise. The effort is to announce CBMs and initiatives on a sustained basis over the next few weeks and months...this will convey to the people of J&K that we are serious about finding a solution to their problems and concerns,” said a senior official. The first set of CBMs may be announced by CCS early next week. Some key members of the all-party delegation that toured J&K met home minister P Chidambaram here on Thursday to put forth their position on issues raised during the visit and suggest CBMs to reach out to the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions. Sources in the security establishment ruled out immediate decision on amendments to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) or its partial withdrawal from certain disturbance-free areas in J&K. The option of taking some trouble-free areas-districts in both Jammu and Kashmir regions off the ‘disturbed areas’ list is, however, on the table. “Once an area is no longer categorised as disturbed, AFSPA will cease to apply there,” said a senior official. The efforts will be to roll out some CBMs next week itself, so as keep up the momentum of the government’s exercise to reach out to the J&K locals by taking “structured and gradual” steps to addressing local grievances. While BJP cautioned the government against any move to amend or limit the scope of AFSPA, saying that immunity was needed for both the Army as well as Central forces deployed in J&K, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury sought CBMs to bring respite to people across the state. Home minister P Chidambaram will be compiling the views expressed by different parties in a detailed report to be discussed at the meeting of the CCS next week. The security establishment is keen on having peace efforts and parleys on J&K running parallel with attempts to bring the Indo-Pakistan composite dialogue back on track.