Monday, October 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Mufti to scrap POTA
Dy CM, Speaker from Congress
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 27
Having decided the contours of their coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, the People’s Democratic Party and the Congress today released their 31-point common minimum programme (CMP) which promises assimilating the Special Operations Group (SOG) within the regular police, releasing detainees held on non-specific charges, rehabilitating victims of militancy, ensuring equitable development of the three regions of the state and not implementing POTA.

Under the broad agreement reached between the two parties on power-sharing, the Congress would get posts of Deputy Chief Minister, Speaker and some key portfolios in the new government. A Congress leader will also head a coordination committee of the two parties which will monitor the implementation of the CMP. Mr Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and PDP leaders are leaving for Srinagar tomorrow, but the new government is unlikely to be sworn in before November 2 as the two parties are keen that Congress President Sonia Gandhi attends the swearing-in ceremony.

Would-be state Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said here that the new government would strive to tackle militancy “through dialogue and not through bullet.”

Releasing the CMP along with senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh in the presence of CLP leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh and Mr Yusuf Tarigami of People’s Democratic Forum, Mr Sayeed hoped that the NDA government, which had taken some initiatives for peace, would now talk to the elected representatives and “other segments of public opinion” for restoration of peace. Mr Sayeed declared that his government would not implement POTA and review cases of those detained under it. Congress leaders Ambika Soni and Arjun Singh, besides PDP’s Muzaffar Baig were also present when the CMP was released.

Mr Sayeed said the parties had come together, keeping aside partisan interests as Jammu and Kashmir needed a healing touch.

“The goal of the coalition government is to heal the physical, psychological and emotional wounds inflicted by 14 years of militancy, to complete the revival of the political process which was begun by recently concluded elections.....

Asked about the PDP’s poll plank of favouring a dialogue with Pakistan, Mr Sayeed said it was an issue between the governments of India and Pakistan. “We should strive to douse the internal fire so that no one from outside would be able to throw a lighted match here,” he said.

Mr Sayeed congratulated Mrs Gandhi for rising above “party interests,” saying that her decision to support the PDP was “historic.” The elections, he said, had provided a golden opportunity to the state and the country to solve the Kashmir problem.

Mr Manmohan Singh said the CMP would herald a new era and provide the state with a strong, purposeful, cohesive and stable government that would face the extraordinary situation keeping the interests of all regions.

Mr Sayeed said his government would review all cases of detainees being held without trial for long periods and release those held on non-specific charges or not facing serious charges. “The government will ensure that SOG personnel are assimilated or relocated within the regular police establishment,” he said.

Mr Sayeed said his government would implement special schemes to rehabilitate former militants who had given up violence and rejoined the mainstream.

“Our government shall make sincere efforts to ensure that all three regions of the state receive an equitable share of resources available for development. It shall set up a state finance commission with a statutory status and efforts will be to ensure that the backlog of development and employment at the regional and district levels is made good within a specified time frame,” Mr Sayeed said.

As part of the healing touch, the CMP promises to rehabilitate the hapless victims of militancy, be they survivors of militant killings or children of killed militants and raise compensation to the kin of deceased to Rs 2 lakh.

Mr Sayeed said the new government shall give foremost concern to ensure safety of people and their property, and “restore” their dignity and honour. Promising to fully cooperate with the Centre in combating cross-border terrorism, he said the new government would encourage young men from the state who had taken to arms to return to the mainstream.

The CMP promises to investigate all cases of custodial killings and human rights abuse, strengthen human rights commission and review harsh laws. It says that the government will set up “Ehtisab” for probing complaints received against the Chief Minister, ministers and legislators.

Mr Sayeed said the government would create a conducive atmosphere for the return of Kashmiri Pandits to their motherland. The state government would approach the Centre for providing adequate financial assistance for relief and rehabilitation of the migrants, he said.

He also vowed to give full powers to the autonomous Hill Council for Leh. “Efforts will be made to persuade the people of Kargil to accept a similar autonomous hill council for Kargil,” he said.

The CMP also talks about preparing an employment-oriented medium-term development plan and giving the status of corporation to Jammu and Srinagar municipalities. It promises to set up a minority commission in the state. 

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