Chidambaram’s visit raises hope of roadmap for Kashmir

Friday, February 4, 2011

JAMMU - Home Minister P. Chidambaram Friday indicated the central government will speed up the process to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir crisis once it receives a final report of the three interlocutors, official sources said.

Chidambaram, who concluded a two-day visit to the state, reviewed the security situation in the mountainous districts of Jammu region at a meeting held at Kishtwar, about 210 km northeast of here.

He came at a time when the state is witnessing a relative spell of peace in Kashmir and flew back to Delhi from Udhampur, the garrison town on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, 66 km from here.

In his meetings with Governor N.N. Vohra, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and senior Congress leaders, Chidambaram dropped enough hints that New Delhi was waiting for the “final report of the interlocutors” before embarking on a solution, the sources said.

“There were sufficient hints from the home minister that the central government was about to touch the finishing line as far as the Kashmir solution seeking exercise is concerned,” an official familiar with the deliberations told IANS.

There were indications that the central government might go out of its way in some respects to accommodate the aspirations of the people of Kashmir, the official said.

For several years, people in Kashmir valley have been protesting against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, demanding a reduction in troops and a political solution to their problems.

Kashmir saw violence by stone-pelting protesters in the summer of 2010 in which over 100 people died in firing by the security forces.

Abdullah, Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti and Kashmiri leaders of mainstream parties and separatists have been asking for a “just political solution of the Kashmir issue”.

Chidambaram interacted with Abdullah at a breakfast meeting Friday and the two agreed to draw up a roadmap for lasting peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

The two favoured speeding up the process for a solution acceptable to all three regions of the state, the sources said.

Abdullah wanted more channels opened for communication with people, especially separatists, and inject a sense of confidence among the masses.

Accompanied by Abdullah, Chidambaram also held a security review meeting in Kishtwar to “get a feel of the situation” in the mountainous areas and know the viewpoint of the people in the region on possible solutions for peace.

The meeting was attended by deputy commissioners and superintendents of police of Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts - the worst militancy affected areas in Jammu region where people feel a disconnect with those in the plains of Jammu and the Kashmir Valley.

Most officers present said the “situation has improved and it is stabilising and militants were on the run”, according to the sources. But their biggest fear was the continuing infiltration from Pakistan.

“If infiltration is checked on the borders, the militancy in the mountains will die its own death,” one officer is reported to have told Chidambaram.

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