CM-PM MEET IN NEW DELHI | PM open to talks, but need to create atmosphere: Mehbooba

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said the Prime Minister appears amenable to holding talks with stake holders in a bid to arrest the deteriorating situation in the Valley.
CM-PM MEET IN NEW DELHI | PM open to talks, but need to create atmosphere: Mehbooba
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Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday 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.

"Talks cannot happen amid stone pelting and firing of bullets," she told reporters after a 20-minute meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence.

At the meeting, 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.

"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.

"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 had left, otherwise there is no scope of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir improving," she said.

"Modi ji said he is following the footsteps of Vajpayee ji. Vajpayee ji's policy was reconciliation, not of confrontation," Mehbooba added.

Referring to the increase in stone-pelting incidents in the Valley, she said there were some young people who were "disillusioned" while some were being "instigated", often through the use of social media sites such as Facebook and Whatsapp.

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.

The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said the situation in Kashmir would be discussed in a meeting of the Unified Command on Tuesday.

The GOC-in-C Northern Command, GOC 16 Corps, GOC 15 corps, DGP J&K,

IG BSF, IG CRPF, senior officers of the IB and RAW and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh will also participate in the meeting in Srinagar.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister, according to an official statement, strongly pleaded for initiating dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir to get the state out of the "clouds of uncertainty, violence and bloodshed." She also sought compensation to the State for the losses it is suffering due to the Indus Water Treaty.

During the meeting, Mehbooba apprised the Prime Minister about the latest situation in Jammu and Kashmir and 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," the spokesman said.

The Chief Minister also brought into the notice of the Prime Minister the colossal losses suffered by Jammu and Kashmir due to IWT and sought compensation for the same. She informed the PM 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.

"The Prime Minister assured the Chief Minister that the demand for compensation would be appropriately addressed and ways and means would be explored to see how the State is properly compensated," the spokesman said, adding: "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."

Responding to the concern raised by Mehbooba Mufti about safety of Kashmiri students studying outside the state, the Prime Minister has directed all the States to ensure safety and security of Kashmiri students across the country, the spokesman said.

Interacting with media-persons later, the Chief Minister appealed to all sections of society in India to help in creating a conducive atmosphere for "dialogue and reconciliation" in the State. She specifically appealed to media to "play a positive and constructive role while reporting things about Kashmir." PTI/GKNN

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