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PM for troops cut if violence, infiltration cease

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: September 06, 2005 02:15 IST
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Reflecting his commitment to bringing peace in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday promised that conditions will be created for reduction of armed forces in the state if there is a cessation of violence and an end to infiltration.

During the parleys with a five-member Hurriyat delegation headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, he agreed to review all cases of all those held in detention and to a time-bound review of those held under the Public Safety Act and Prevention of Terrorism Act.

Making it clear that violence had no role in a democracy, the prime minister reaffirmed his faith in a peaceful resolution of all issues pertaining to Jammu and Kashmir and his commitment to ensure a life of peace, self-respect and dignity for the people.

In his first face-to-face interaction with the separatist amalgam ahead of his meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on September 14, the prime minister promised to ensure that violations of human dignity would not be tolerated and that the government would take all necessary measures to safeguard against human rights violations.

A press release issued after the talks said it was agreed to carry forward the dialogue process so that all shades of political opinion in Jammu and Kashmir are involved.

Handing out the release, Prime Minister's Media Advisor Sanjaya Baru told reporters that the talks would continue for which no date has been fixed.

The Hurriyat Conference has been demanding release of political detainees, withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act and scaling down security forces presence in the valley.

On its part, the Hurriyat delegation stressed that an honourable and durable solution should be found to Kashmir issue should be found through dialogue and it was agreed that that only way forward was to ensure that all forms of violence at all levels should come to an end.

It was felt that the dialogue process should lead to the resolution of all outstanding issues relating to Jammu and Kashmir.

The delegation stressed that an honourable and durable solution should be found through dialogue, the statement said.

The amalgam leaders told the prime minister that it would be able to bring specific suggestions for honourable and durable resolution of the problem of Jammu and Kashmir at the next meeting.

They also briefed the prime minister about their talks with President Pervez Musharraf when they visited Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in June.

They welcomed the Indo-Pak peace process and the initiative taken by the prime minister including resumption of bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad.

Several issues concerning rights of people deserving attention of the government were raised at the meeting, the statement said.

Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, Union Home Secretary V K Duggal, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister T K A Nair, Centre's

Pointsman for Kashmir N N Vohra, PM's Special Envoy on Pakistan S K Lamba and Intelligence Bureau Chief E S L Narisimhan were present at the meeting.

Besides the Mirwaiz, the delegation comprised Abdul Gani Bhat, Bilal Lone, Maulana Abbas Ansari and Fazal-ul-haq Qureshi.

The Mirwaiz told PTI after the meeting that the amalgam welcomed the Centre's decision for a time-bound review of cases of detainees booked under PSA and POTA in Jammu and Kashmir.

He said the talks with the prime minister were a step in the right direction and 'we made it clear that these should result in a movement forward as far as Kashmir is concerned'.

"We have conveyed that the Centre should not see the Kashmir issue as an issue which will be solved by making some administrative changes or changing the government," he said.

Asked when was the second meeting expected, the Mirwaiz said it would be held after the Prime Minister returns from New York where he would meet President Pervez Musharraf on September 14.

Congress MP and Centre's new track-II man Saif-ud-din Soz said, "I am very happy that this proved to be a meeting of historic importance because it is a complete breakthrough for sustaining the dialogue."

"As I have said Hurriyat will not return empty handed, the decision taken at the meeting has shown the sincerity of all sides to find a resolution to the issue," he said.


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Onkar Singh in New Delhi