J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Asks Separatists To Negotiate As Atmosphere Is Positive

J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Asks Separatists To Negotiate As Atmosphere Is Positive

15 August 2012
The Economic Times
Masood Hussain

Srinagar: J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah sees prevailing atmosphere fit for resumption of dialogue with Kashmir's separatist camp. He foresees no positive results on Kashmir front, essentially a political issue, if the government harps on development and the separatist communicate through violence. 'You (separatists) come forward and talk for achieving a breakthrough on table which gun could not deliver in 20 years', Omar said in his speech at Bakhshi Stadium, venue of the main Independence day function in the state, after unfurling the tricolor and taking salute at the parad. 'Kashmir issue has political genesis and requires political solution for effective addressing through a sustained dialogue process.' Omar termed dialogue as the 'only way forward to address Kashmir issue effectively and meaningfully' and suggested separatists to get engaged in the dialogue process for the larger interest of the people and J&K. Offering statistical comparison, Omar told the audience, mostly comprising lawmakers, police and paramilitary personnel and school children, the situation has phenomenally improved in the state. In three, Omar said, the militancy related incidents fell to 90 from 370; civilian killings nosedived from 50 to 8 and security forces casualty reduced from 70 to even. This much of improvement for the first time since 1990, Omar pointed out, enabled the government to vacate all school buildings from the occupation of security forces besides 33 hotels, 256 government buildings and 25 industrial estates. As many as 40 bunkers were removed in Srinagar as 10 CRPF companies and two BSF companies were relived from security duty. There are only three hospitals under the occupation of security forces now, Omar said. 'It is our endeavour to reduce the footprints of the security forces in the state,' Omar said while talking about the AFSPA that remained unchanged by the overall improvement in security situation. Omar said talks on AFSPA removal are going on. 'I regret that we have not reached a stage when AFSPA can be removed permanently,' Omar said, adding, 'I am sure that it will be revoked in the tenure of this government.' The government, he said, is talking to various stake holders but an amicable position is eluding, a situation in which 'we could revoke the AFSPA from some areas of the state.' The last round of talks on the issue took place when Defence Minister A K Antony and Army chief visited the state. Neither of the two committees set up over AFSPA earlier have submitted their reports. Omar said his government is slowly implementing the scheme aimed at getting the boys back from across the LoC. The policy, he said, is producing encouraging results. Last year 60 such people have returned home and this year 70 cases have already been cleared. Though the audience listening to Omar in Bakhshi Stadium was thin despite a government circular asking all the state government employees to attend the function, the larger solace was that the celebrations across the state passed incident free. Everything went as per the script. Separatists have traditionally been sponsoring August 15 as black day. With people staying home, it becomes easy for the security agencies to sanitize the venues in Srinagar and all other districts. The security drill for the Independence and Republic Days is quite hectic and starts 10 days ahead of the functions. This season, J&K Police's new boss Ashok Prasad was personally seen frisking people during late night hour and visiting various old city police stations during the nights to encourage his personnel that even their bosses do not sleep during emergencies. Security arrangement remained tight and fool proof from wee hour's till the hour long function was declared over. All the cell phone services remained off till noon and strict restrictions remained in place. However, in the afternoon, the overall atmosphere was much relaxed though it did not pave way for resumption of routine activities.