Channels of talks with separatists open: PC30 December 2011
The Daily Excelsior
New Delhi: The Centre today said channels of communication with some of the separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir were still open and there was a possibility of negotiation with them in the new year if they came forward for dialogue. 'As far as talks with the separatist groups in Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, we are always open to talk to them. It is not that the channels of communication with some of them have entirely cut off. These channels are still open and it is possible that some of them in 2012 will agree to come forward for talks. If they are ready for talks, we are ready for talks,' Home Minister P Chidambaram told a news conference here. He was replying to a question on the possibility of peace talks with Jammu and Kashmir-based separatist groups in 2012. Asked about the report of the three Interlocutors on Kashmir, Chidambaram said the Cabinet Committee on Security has been briefed once on the Interlocutors report. 'They have asked for a fuller, longer briefing for which we have to find time. I hope that, that will take place in early January and I hope that once the CCS is briefed, Interlocutors report will be published. There is no hesitation in making it public,' he said. The Interlocutors submitted their report to Mr Chidambaram in October this year. The report was called for review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and gradual withdrawal of Disturbed Areas Act from certain parts of the Kashmir valley. The report, however, stayed away from the contentious issues of ‘azadi’ and autonomy, saying the clock cannot be turned back in the Valley. The panel comprised senior journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and Information Commissioner M M Ansari. The trio were appointed on October 13 last year, when the Kashmir situation had turned grim following street protests and the killing of more than 100 youths. Meanwhile, Government today decided to step up vigil in States bordering Pakistan following inputs that militants from across the border may strike in India. Chidambaram said there were inputs that militants from across the border could be planning some action in the country and they have identified some targets. 'This morning, we have taken a decision to increase level of alertness in States bordering Pakistan and that obviously includes Punjab,' he said. He said due to the 'very strong continuing flow of information' the directive has been issued for alertness in bordering States, which include Jammu and Kashmir. Chidambaram said with elections coming up in Punjab, Government has to remain at a high level of alertness in the State. 'What we gathered, we review every day... We alert the States who are targets. Apart from the Jehadi groups, there is BKI (Babar Khalsa International) and some other Khalistan groups. We did bust a BKI module a few days ago. So, we have to remain in high alert in Punjab. We are working with the Government of Punjab and we will continue to remain high alert,' he said. Asked whether there was revival of Khalistan movement in Punjab, the Home Minister replied in negative. 'There is no revival. These are remnant elements from old groups. Many of them have fled the country, many of them have taken refuge in foreign countries. These are remnant groups. There is no revival of Khalistan movement,' he said. The Government has informed the Bombay High Court about Pakistan judicial commission’s desire to visit the country and interview key persons linked to the probe into 2008 Mumbai terror attacks including the official who had questioned Ajmal Kasab. When asked about the visit of the Commission, Chidambaram said, 'We have informed the High Court of Bombay that the Pakistani Commission desires to visit India in January and they have suggested some dates and we have asked the Chief Justice of Bombay High Court to agree and give suitable instructions to the judicial authorities. 'Once we hear from the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court we will convey it to Pakistan. I hope this will go through in January 2012,' he said. New Delhi was informed on Tuesday that the Pakistan judicial commission will visit India in January 2012, official sources said. The commission will take the statements of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R V Sawant Waghule and Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale, who recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist involved in the 26-11 Mumbai terror attacks, to pursue the case in Pakistan. It also wanted to take the statements of the two doctors who carried out the post mortem of the terrorists killed. Government had to inform the High Court about the visit of the judicial commission as the terror incident and the trial of the case had taken place under its area of jurisdiction. Pakistan has already issued a gazette notification on the formation of the judicial commission and has listed the members who will represent Pakistan Government. The delegation will include Khalid Qureshi, the head of the Federal Investigation Agency’s Special Investigation Group, and Muhammad Azhar Chaudhry and Chaudhry Zulifqar, the two main prosecutors. The notification further said that representatives of the defence lawyers too would be part of the commission.