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Centre Announces 8-Point Initiative For Kashmir

New Delhi, Sep 25 : Announcing a eight-point Kashmir formula, the Centre on Saturday said a Group of Interlocutors led by an eminent persons will hold "sustained dialogue" with all sections of Jammu and Kashmir
PTI September 25, 2010 19:44 IST
PTI
New Delhi, Sep 25 : Announcing a eight-point Kashmir formula, the Centre on Saturday said a Group of Interlocutors led by an eminent persons will hold "sustained dialogue" with all sections of Jammu and Kashmir and also review deployment of security forces in the Valley, especially in Srinagar.

Unveiling a package of measures approved by the Cabinet Committee of Security(CCS) at its meeting here in a bid to deal with the civil unrest in the Kashmir Valley, Home Minister P Chidambaram said the state Government will be advised to review the notification of areas as "Disturbed Areas". The unrest has claimed the lives of 105 persons since June 10.

The 30-minute CCS meeting was presided by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Chidambaram did not elaborate whether the review of the Disturbed Areas notification was a prelude to any phased withdrawal of the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain areas of the Valley.

J and K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah welcomed the Centre's initiative saying it is a positive development and must lead to a resolution to all political issues of Jammu and Kashmir.

The CCS decisions were taken after it reviewed the situation in the Valley and considered the report of the recent visit of the 36-member all-party delegation to J and K submitted by Chidambaram, who had led the team.

In a bid to reach out to the masses, the Centre also advised the J and K government to release students and youth who have been arrested or detained for stone pelting and similar violations of law during the Valley unrest, and withdraw all charges against them.

 The state governmetn has also been advised to review cases of all Public Safety Act(PSA) detenues and withdraw detention orders in appropriate cases.

"Government will appoint a Group of Interlocutors under the Chairmanship of an eminent person to begin the process of sustained dialogue with political parties, groups, students, civil society," Chidambaram said.

However, he did not say the exact composition of the group and skirted the question and said "it can be either one plus two or one plus three...we will see."

The CCS decided to advice the state government to immediately convene a meeting of the Unified Command and review the deployment of the security forces in Kashmir valley, especially at Srinagar, with particular reference to descale bunkers and check points in the summer capital and other towns, the Home Minister said.

Chidambaram said Government will grant ex-gratia of Rs five lakh to the family of each of those killed in civil disturbances in Kashmir since June 11.

The all-party team had met many delegations in the Valley who had laid a special stress on reducing the presence of security forces at least in Srinagar and other major towns.

Sources said if the state Government decides to withdraw the disturbed area act from some areas, the AFSPA will have to go automatically.

On the issue of releasing people detained during the unrest, Chidambaram made it clear that there were only 245 people arrested or detained by the state government out of whom 84 were in judicial custody, 110 in police custody and 51 detained under the PSA.

With education taking a hit during the three-and-a-half month unrest, the Centre requested the state government to take steps to immediately reopen all schools, colleges and universities.

Special classes should be also conducted and efforts should be made to ensure examinations are conducted on schedule for the current academic year, the home minister said.

Chidamabram said a Rs 100 crore additional central assistance would be made available to the state government for improving infrastructure in educational institutions.

As part of the eight-point initiative, Chidambaram said two Special Task Forces--one each for Jammu region and Ladakh region--will be appointed to examine the developmental needs of the two regions, with particular reference to deficiencies in infrastructure and make suitable recommendations.

Later in a brief interaction with the reporters, Chidambaram refused to take any questions on AFSPA and said "let the state government first conduct the review."

On being asked if the disturbed areas act was withdrawn by the Unified Headquarters, will that lead to a similar fate to AFSPA, Chidambaram said "I cannot say. I will have to wait for review."

He said as a matter of "prudence and past practice", the Unified Command advises the state government before a discussion with the Centre could begin.

Following are the measures approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) today as part of its eight-point package for Jammu and Kashmir: 

*Appoint a group of interlocutors under the chairmanship of an eminent person to begin the process of a sustained dialogue with all sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, including political parties or groups, youth and student organisations, civil society organisations and other stakeholders. 

*Advise the state government to immediately release all students and youth detained or arrested for stone pelting or similar violations of law and to withdraw the charges against such students and youth. 

*Advise the state government to immediately review the cases of all PSA detenues and withdraw the detention orders in appropriate cases. 

*Request the state government to immediately convene a meeting of the Unified Command and to review the deployment of security forces in the Kashmir Valley, especially Srinagar, with particular reference to de-scaling the number of bunkers, check-points etc. in Srinagar and other towns, and to review the notification of areas as 'disturbed areas'. 

*Grant ex-gratia relief to the families of the deceased persons at Rs 5 lakh per person killed in the civil disturbances since June 11, 2010. 

*Appoint two Special Task Forces, one each for Jammu region and Ladakh region, to examine the developmental needs of the two regions, with particular reference to deficiencies in infrastructure and make suitable recommendations. 

*Request state government to take steps to immediately reopen all schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions; hold special classes or lectures, if necessary; and to ensure that the examinations for the current academic year (2010-11) are conducted.

 *Provide to the state government a sum of Rs 100 crore as Additional Central Assistance (ACA) in order to make grants to schools and colleges for improvements and additions to the existing infrastructure such as class rooms, auditorium, laboratory, library, play ground, toilets. PTI