Discusses Kashmir situation with Rajnath Singh
New Delhi, April 24
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and emphasised that dialogue was the only way to prevent the situation from deteriorating in the Valley.
She invoked former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy on Kashmir, and said the thread should be picked up from where he had left off — an apparent suggestion for talks with separatists.
During the 20-minute meeting at Modi’s residence here, Mehbooba briefed the prime minister on the situation, particularly in the increase in violence since the by-poll for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency.
Recent tensions in the PDP-BJP alliance over the handling of the security situation in Kashmir also came up at the meeting.
Referring to the increase in stone-pelting incidents, she said there were some young people who were “disillusioned” while some were being “instigated”, including through the use of social media sites such as Facebook and Whatsapp.
The path of dialogue undertaken by Vajpayee is the only way out to resolve the Kashmir crisis, she said. Mehbooba Mufti pleaded for initiating dialogue in Jammu & Kashmir to get the State out of the clouds of uncertainty, violence and bloodshed. The Chief Minister said dialogue is the only way forward for unbundling the knots of mistrust and uncertainty in the State and herald it to a level of prosperity and welfare. She said it was the dialogue only due to which many path-breaking initiatives were taken in the State. She said peace and dialogue are interdependent on each other. The Prime Minister told the Chief Minister that in the twin pronged objective of dialogue and development lies the solution to all the problems of the State and all efforts would be made in this regard. She also raised the Indus water treaty issue, saying it was causing a huge loss to the state and sought compensation to the State for the losses it is suffering due to the Indus Water Treaty. The Chief Minister said that the colossal losses suffered by Jammu & Kashmir due to Indus Water Treaty and sought compensation for the same.
She informed Modi that the recurring losses to the State due to non usage of waters of its rivers for agriculture, power and irrigation have gone beyond Rs 30000 crore as the treaty does not allow storage of its river waters by the State.
Many other issues like progress on ‘Agenda of Alliance’, obtaining situation in the State and other related matters also came up for discussion during the meeting. The Prime Minister assured Mehbooba Mufti of full support from the Centre in its approach on these issues.
Mehbooba said the prime minister assured her that efforts would be made to see how the state would be compensated for this. Mehbooba Mufti said the prime minister appears amenable to holding talks with stake holders in a bid to arrest the deteriorating situation in the Valley.
However, she cautioned, that “an atmosphere needs to be created” for a dialogue. “The prime minister has an intention of holding talks after the situation becomes normal,” Mehbooba told reporters.
Kashmir is in the grip of increased violence since the April 9 by-poll for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency. The security forces are under intense pressure as they are faced with almost daily protests and stone-pelting.
The army and the CRPF have received some praise for showing restraint under provocation, and also come under criticism, especially after a video showed a civilian tied to a jeep as a human shield as it drove through the streets to avoid being attacked.
“Talks are the only option,” Mehbooba said.”How long can you have a confrontation.”
“Talks with Hurriyat (Conference) had taken place when Vajpayee ji was the Prime Minister and L K Advani ji was the Deputy Prime Minister. We need to start from where Vajpayee ji left. Talks are the only way out,” she said. Rising tensions between the coalition partners, the PDP and the BJP, over the handling of the security situation in Kashmir also came up at the meeting.
The coalition also came under strain when the PDP lost a seat in the recently held MLC polls when an independent MLA voted in favour of BJP candidate Vikram Randhawa, leading to his victory. “Whatever happened should not have taken place. But this is an internal matter and we will resolve it with the BJP,” she said. She also raised the Indus water treaty issue, saying it was causing a huge loss of Rs 20,000 crore to the state.
Mehbooba said the prime minister assured her that efforts would be made to see how the state would be compensated for this. The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said the situation in Kashmir would be discussed in a meeting of the Unified Command tomorrow.
It may be recalled here that Chief Minister yesterday during the meeting of Niti Aayog had raised the issue of reports of alleged harassment of Kashmiri students studying in various parts of the country.
Responding to the concern raised by Mehbooba Mufti, the Prime Minister has directed all the States to ensure safety and security of Kashmiri students across the country. In a separate meeting with Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, Mehbooba Mufti also underlined the urgent need for initiating dialogue with all shades of opinion in the State.
The union Home Minister told Mehbooba Mufti that already an advisory has been issued to all state Governments about protecting and safeguarding students from the State in their areas.
She said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir will improve in the next 2-3 months and then dialogue could be initiated with all stake holders. “I understand that the coming 2-3 months are crucial for us. The situation of Jammu and Kashmir will change and improve. We will first restore the normalcy, then the talks can be initiated,” she said after meeting Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Mehbooba discussed with him various issues, particularly on the security situation in the state.
Later in the day, the Chief Minister also met the union Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad and brought several issues concerning his Ministry into the notice of the union Minister and sought their redressal.