Manmohan open to talks with all Kashmiri groups

By Manish Chand, IANS,

On Board Air India One : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday offered to hold talks with all Kashmiri groups, including the separatist Hurriyat Conference, for peace and development in the state, even as he underlined “zero tolerance” of rights violations days after the alleged rape and murder of two women in the state.

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“It is very unfortunate that these incidents have taken place. If there were any violation of human rights, we will take effective action,” Manmohan Singh told journalists while returning from a three-day visit to Yekaterinburg in Russia.

He was replying to a question about reports of rights violations in Kashmir and the rape and murder of two women in Shopian town late last month that triggered mass protests in the valley.

He added that his government was committed to “zero tolerance” of rights violations.

The state government has set up a judicial commission to probe the rape and murder case. Protesters have alleged involvement of security personnel in the incident.

Reiterating his commitment to reconstruction and development of Jammu and Kashmir, Manmohan Singh said he was willing to engage with any group, including those outside the political mainstream, for peace and development of the state.

“I have not given up hope on Jammu and Kashmir,” the prime minister stressed.

“I have always said that we would be happy to engage in a dialogue with any groups and I mean any groups in talking to us that option is open and we would welcome even those groups who are not in the political mainstream,” he said.

“If they have any views, we are quite willing to discuss with them. In the past also I have invited the Hurriyat,” he said while alluding to two rounds of talks he held with the Hurriyat Conference during his first prime ministerial term.

He, however, rued a lack of coherent response from the Hurriyat.

“They said they would send us proposals, they never sent us any proposals. They said there are too many people detained. I asked them to give me a list of people who they felt had been detained without purpose, they never gave any list,” he said.

“I am not complaining. We are ready to talk with whosoever is willing to shun the gun culture and violence,” he said.

Putting focus on development of the state, Manmohan Singh said he has spoken Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and told him that once the new government settles down, it will take a fresh look at the problems of developing the state and “update our development and reconstructive plans”.