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Kashmir package not region-specific: Omar assures BJP, Pandits


Jammu : The eight-point Kashmir package is not “Kashmir Valley centric”, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday asserted and sought to assuage the feelings of hurt in some quarters, especially in Jammu region and among Hindu Pandit groups.

“This package is for all the three regions,” Abdullah told mediapersons in Jammu Monday on the sidelines of a function. “It is wrong to say that it is region specific,” the chief minister said in reply to a comment that the central government’s Sep 25 package was being seen as valley centric.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced an eight-point package for Jammu and Kashmir after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security. Seven of eight points are seen as Kashmir centric by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), refugees from Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Kashmiri Pandit organisations.

Abdullah condemned the criticism of the Jammu organisations and asked them to revisit the package which would reveal to them that it is not region specific.

The BJP’s state unit president, Shamsher Singh Manhas pointed out at a press conference here Sunday that the package had “nothing for Jammu”. He said the package was aimed at “pampering Kashmiri separatists”.

Similar reservations were voiced by Rajiv Chuni, president of SOS, a premier organisation of refugees from Pakistan-administered Kashmir. “This is nothing but an exercise to keep Kashmiris happy, while ignoring Jammu and its urges and aspirations,” Chuni said.

According to the package, a group of interlocutors will be appointed to hold dialogue on the Kashmir issue and youths arrested in the recent stone-pelting incidents will be freed soon.

The CCS decisions were made on the assessment of the 39-member all-party delegation which visited Jammu and Kashmir recently.

Suggestions on withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some areas would be taken first by the Unified Command in the state.

The other decisions are:

– A review of the deployment of security forces in the state.

– Review of bunkers and other security posts in the state.

– Rs.5 lakh compensation to the families of each of those killed in the recent violence.

– Rs.100 crore fund for renovation of schools, colleges and other institutions.

– Appointment of a task force to study the infrastructure projects in the state.

The Kashmir Valley has been rocked by violence since June 11, that has seen at least 108 people, mostly youths and teenagers, killed in firing by security forces on stone-pelting street protesters.