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PM's Kashmir remarks misunderstood: Patil

Source: PTI
February 27, 2006 15:24 IST
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The talks with people of Jammu and Kashmir were in the larger interest of peace and harmony in the state, and issues like autonomy and self-rule were among the agenda during the recent round table conducted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil told Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Making a statement on the issue raised by Dr Murli Manohar Joshi of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Nilotpal Basu of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) during the Question Hour, Patil said issues like economic development and social harmony also figured in the discussions.

"The members should not go by newspaper reports alone because a lot many other issues were also discussed," he said, adding that the talks did not centre on autonomy and self-rule but it was a meeting with people from all regions -- Kashmir Valley, Jammu, Leh and Ladakh.

"We are hearing all views and none should find fault for hearing because it was necessary to use the elasticity provided by the Constitution to benefit people from all regions, religions and communities because you cannot achieve social harmony through the power of the gun but through winning the hearts," Patil noted.

He said words like 'autonomy' and 'self rule', should not be misunderstood because even in Panchayat Raj regime prevailing in the country, the Zilla Parishads and Taluk Boards are often referred as local self governments.

Noting the presence of extremist elements in the round table talks chaired by Dr Singh, Joshi said that the main issue was to stop cross-border terrorism in the troubled state. "There has recently been talk of self-rule in J&K from the government's side, he said, adding that such deviations were not in national interest, at a time when US president George Bush is to arrive on an official visit to India.

Basu said the Kashmir issue was a very complex issue, which required wide ranging consultations. The autonomy issue, he said was first raised in the J&K assembly by the National Conference, when it was in power in the state, and the National Democratic Alliance regime at the Centre.

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