Tuesday, August 8, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

PM: J&K talks can go beyond statute
Uproar in LS, RS
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Aug 7- An Opposition onslaught in both Houses of Parliament on the Government’s handling of the recent killings of more than 100 persons in Kashmir today compelled the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to clarify on the security aspect of the Amarnath Yatra.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister said that the government was “doubly determined” to pursue peace in Jammu and Kashmir even while keeping up the fight against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism. He ruled out a judicial inquiry into the killings of more than 100 persons in Kashmir as demanded by the Congress and some other parties.

“A nation of a billion people cannot, indeed shall not, be deterred by violence, no matter how gruesome and senseless, perpetrated at the behest of and by those who neither believe in peaceful co-existence nor in peaceful resolution of issues,” he added.

The Prime Minister’s clarifications, however, failed to cut ice with the Opposition. Led by the Congress, the Opposition members said there was nothing “substantial” in Mr Vajpayee’s clarifications and the Government was attempting to push the real issues under the carpet.

Opposition ire led to the Rajya Sabha being adjourned twice in the post-lunch session while the Lok Sabha was adjourned thrice.

While the Congress, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, and the Communist Party of India insisted on a judicial probe into the circumstances that led to the Kashmir killings, the Samajwadi Party and the CPM felt that a judicial probe would delay matters. They instead suggested a full-fledged discussion in the Lok Sabha.

Replying to the members’ demand in the Lok Sabha, the Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, said that a judicial inquiry at this stage into the Kashmir killings was not possible as according to the Commission of Inquiry Act, 1952, the Centre was not permitted to conduct an inquiry in to a issue of public order in Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier, the Prime Minister in his remarks said that the talks with the Kashmiri militants could focus on issues “outside the Constitution”.

Ruling out Islamabad’s role in any dialogue, he said “the dialogue (with Hizbul Mujahideen) would be within the framework of Constitution but in the course of the dialogue if issues were raised which were outside the Constitution, as in Nagaland, the Government will not be unwilling to talk.” Expressing the Government’s resolve to fight terrorism tooth and nail while pursuing the path of peace, the Prime Minister made it clear that any negotiations with Pakistan will take place only after the hostile neighbour desisted from cross-border terrorism and created a “conducive atmosphere”.


Setback to dialogue

SRINAGAR, Aug 7 (PTI) — In a new turn to the ongoing ceasefire talks, the Hizbul Mujahideen today accused Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee of changing his stand and asked the Centre to come out with a “fresh and unequivocal” statement that the government wanted to have an unconditional dialogue with the organisation.

In a statement, Hizbul’s chief commander Abdul Majid Dar said Mr Vajpayee’s statement in New Delhi yesterday that the talks on the Jammu and Kashmir issue with Hizbul Mujahideen would have to be held within the framework of the Constitution “has dashed all hopes generated among the common people that dark days are numbered as the Hizb announced ceasefire and the government responded positively’’

Dar, who made the surprise announcement of a unilateral ceasefire on July 24, said the fresh statement from the government was all the more necessary as the Head of the government “changed” his stand within four days of bringing Hizbul Mujahideen at a crossroad — whether to stand by its promise (of ceasefire) or not. Dar termed the statement of the Prime Minister as a “crude joke’’ saying the Hizbul had made a ‘’sincere offer’’ of ceasefire.

“In view of confusing statements made frequently, it becomes imperative that Government of India make a fresh unequivocal and categorical statement that it wants to have unconditional dialogue with Hizbul Mujahideen”, Dar said, adding the fresh statement will facilitate HM to take a decision.

He said “Under these circumstances, the supreme command council of the outfit — highest decision-making body of the outfit — is the sole authority whether to continue or withdraw the ceasefire. The responsibility for the consequences will rest with the Government of India’’.

Describing the ceasefire announcement as a “bold step’’, Dar in his three-page statement in Urdu said the decision was the outcome of a prolonged discussion’’. It was also not a decision taken out of sentiments but taken after keeping in mind several hard facts’’.

Dar said the Hizbul took the ceasefire decision keeping in mind the miseries of the Kashmiris for the last one decade and the fact that a sizeable number of them were forced to leave their homes and lead a life of migrants in Jammu and New Delhi and that many of them were facing untold miseries in camps in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Meanwhile, the outfit’s supreme commander Syed Salahuddin urged Islamabad-based diplomats to persuade India to agree to the tripartite talks. “They (India) intend to tie the affair in a bilateral dialogue which is not an acceptable preposition. Kashmir tangle can be solved only by a just negotiating process involving all three parties — Kashmiris, India and Pakistan,” he said in a letter to the ambassadors.

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