Post UP, Modi Govt Hints At Kashmir Talks

NEW DELHI: Days after sweeping Uttar Pradesh elections, Narendra Modi led Union Government has hinted at talks on Kashmir.

In this regard, Government of India (GoI) on Wednesday said that it is ready to talk to all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to normalise the situation there.

"We are ready to talk to everyone... The entire nation wants the situation to normalise in Kashmir. We are ready to cooperate with everyone and have taken all initiatives in this regard," Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh told upper house of the parliament.

He noted that he had visited the Kashmir valley thrice during the peoples uprising in 2016.

"When there was unrest, I went to the Kashmir valley thrice. I have spoken each time. The government wants the Kashmir situation to improve. We have taken every initiative," he said.

"I also want to inform the House that there has been no dearth of official communication," he said. Singh was speaking in Parliament today.

While talking about steps and schemes initiated to normalise the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Home Minister said that he does not, at the same time, dismiss the work done by the previous governments.

"We never want to take credit of anyone. We don't claim that we alone can improve the situation and solve the Kashmir problem. The support of every political party and every citizen is required to solve the Kashmir problem," he said.

He said that the Modi government was trying to take forward the initiatives taken by previous governments.

Putting the onus on Pakistan for resumption of dialogue, Singh said that it should commit to "end the state-sponsored terrorism”.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh also said in the Rajya Sabha that the government was ready to talk to all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir to normalise the situation there.

"Pakistan should at least make a beginning and say it is willing to talk and end the terrorist activities and seek the support of any country in the world (in ending terrorism).

Pakistan should take an initiative," he said.

Singh was responding to questions by members as to why talks are not being held with Pakistan.

“The previous (UPA) government had also placed a condition for Pakistan to give a commitment to end state-sponsored terrorism," he added.

Listing some of the initiatives taken, he said the selection process for the armed police forces is over and job opportunities for Kashmiri youth have increased.

Referring to the visit of an all-party delegation (APD) to Kashmir during the unrest last year, Singh said that Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had even written a letter, "inviting all such (separatist) forces to talk to the visiting delegation. However they still did not turn up."

Mentioning about the snub given by Hurriyat Conference leaders to some members of the delegation when they tried to meet them, he said, "these people (the delegation comprising Yechury and others) were forced to beat a hasty retreat. What do they expect from us?"

Earlier, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad asked what the government has done in the Kashmir valley to normalise the situation.

Sharad Yadav (JD-U) asked why the government is not engaging in a dialogue with Pakistan to normalise the situation in Kashmir.

"Why have you closed the road? Why don't you talk? Why do you want to suppress everything with the force of gun? Why has the agenda of governance not been implemented, as the demand has been made by the state Chief Minister also? The process of dialogue is shut and there are no talks (with Pakistan)," he asked.

Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said Jammu and Kashmir situation is not just a law and order problem. He said the trust deficit is growing by the day in the Kashmir Valley.

"Why not the commitment of starting a dialogue with all stakeholders? Merely tackling terrorism is not going to solve the problem," he said, adding that talking to Pakistan was also raised by the chief minister.

10000 SPOs Recruited

The Union Home Minister on Wednesday revealed that during the current tenure of the government, as many as 10000 Special Police Officers (SPOs) have been recruited in J&K.

“Never before have there been recruitment of as many as 10,000 SPOs in Kashmir valley and five new India Reserve Battalions have been raised there with as many as 4,500 personnel,” Rajnath Singh told the Rajya Sabha today.

Besides, he said, central armed police battalions have been raised in J&K with 1200 personnel.

The Home Minister said that there were 322 incidents of militant violence in 2016 and 150 suspected militants were killed, but in 2017, as many as 32 militants were killed.

The Home Minister, while talking about the benefits given to the soldiers, mentioned out-of-turn promotions and honour to soldiers involved in surgical strike.

"We have decided that under any circumstances the family of a jawan martyred will get overall financial support of more than Rs 1 crore," he said.

He said although sacrifices of the “jawans cannot be measured in monetary terms, they got less money earlier".

He added, "whenever our soldiers are martyred, we take full precautions to send his body to his village and the district authorities as well as the MLAs and MPs concerned are informed to be present in the funeral ceremony."

‘37 Central Police Armed Personnel Committed Suicide In 3 Years’

Thirty-seven cases of suicide by the central armed police forces personnel deployed in Jammu and Kashmir have been reported during the last three years, Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday.

Statistically speaking on an average, one personnel has ended his or her life every month during the period.

Responding to a question, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said, “the reasons identified for such suicide cases are generally personal and domestic problems like marital discord, personal enmity, mental illness, depression and work related issues.”

He said, “the government has taken number of steps to improve working conditions for them which include providing better medical facilities, organising talks with specialists to address their personal and psychological concerns and organising meditation and yoga for stress management.”

Regular interaction between troops and commanders, stress management capsule course, grant of leave to attend urgent personal issues, adequate rest and relief, improvement in living condition among others are being implemented as well, the Minister said.

Want Terror-Free Ties With Pakistan: President

India is committed to building ties with Pakistan in an environment “free from terror and violence”, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Wednesday.

The President greeted the government and people of Pakistan on the occasion of their National Day (March 23).

In a message to his Pakistani counterpart Mamnoon Hussain, Mukherjee said: "On behalf of the government and people of India and on my own behalf, I extend greetings to you and to the friendly people of Pakistan.”

"India is committed to building ties with Pakistan in an environment free from terror and violence."




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