Congress Policy Group Told to Help Settle Kashmir Issue

SRINAGAR: A Congress party delegation, led by former prime minister Manmohan Singh, which concluded its two-day visit to Kashmir Sunday, was impressed upon by the various groups representing Kashmir civil society, to help create atmosphere for permanant resolution of seven decades old Kashmir dispute.

The party's 'policy planning group on J-K affairs' returned to New Delhi this afternoon after two days of meetings and interactions with various groups, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president G A Mir told reporters.

Mir said over 54 delegations and groups, involving about 1,200 people, met the panel.

Mir said the predominant thrust, during the interactions with Dr. Singh was “resolution of the Kashmir issue.”

“Delegates from civil society referred to the Congress’s and Dr. Singh’s past initiatives like working groups, interlocutors and talks with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. There was a common refrain that such initiatives lacked follow-up. I believe the Congress can make it a starting point,” Mir said.

"It was a fruitful visit and the people in the valley responded because there was credibility as it was led by a former prime minister. The interactions...are the first indicator that people want peace and discussions," he said.

"They also gave them inputs of the feelings and aspirations of the people from different nook and corner of Kashmir Valley, especially the failures of the present dispensations and the betrayal of the mandate of the people by the ruling dispensation," he said.

The Congress state president said the policy planning group would visit Ladakh by the end of this month or early next month.

The panel will compile a report and submit to the party high command, which will then decide the party's future course of action, he said.

The panel was formed in April this year after the situation in the valley worsened because of widespread violence by agitators during the Srinagar Lok Sabha bypolls.

The group met various delegations from Kashmir, including opposition parties, bar association, LoC trade delegation, minority delegation, fruit growers association, women's delegation, hotel and houseboat associations, tour and travel delegation, and panchayat delegation.

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