M A I N   N E W S

Ahamadi to chair panel on Kashmir-Centre ties
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 4
The UPA government has approached former Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice A M Ahamadi to head a Working Group on strengthening relations between Jammu and Kashmir and the Centre.

This is one of the five working groups on Jammu and Kashmir promised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on May 25 during the second Jammu and Kashmir Roundtable Conference in Srinagar. Of all the five groups, this is the most sensitive and important.

Mr Yusuf Tarigami, chief of the Jammu and Kashmir unit of the CPM, has been appointed Convener of the working group on strengthening relations between the State and the Centre.

Justice Ahamadiís consent for the job is yet to come. He is currently out of the country.

The panel, as stated by the Prime Minister on May 25, will deliberate on:

l Matters relating to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Union.

l Methods of strengthening democracy, secularism and the rule of law in the State.

l Effective devolution of powers among different regions of Jammu and Kashmir to meet regional, sub-regional and ethnic aspirations.

Apart from the Chairman and the Convener, the group will have five more members, one each from political parties like National Conference, PDP and the Congress. The BJP is unlikely to be represented on this panel as the government had said only those parties which participated in the second roundtable conference in Srinagar would be eligible to be on the five working groups. The BJP had boycotted the second roundtable conference.

The groups may co-opt experts if they so desire. The State government will extend logistic support.

It is expected that the panel on strengthening relations between Srinagar and New Delhi will start working soon. It is not yet known as to how long this panel would take in completing its work. The State Autonomy Committee, set up by former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, had taken four years to complete its report.

J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was here yesterday and met Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and National Security Adviser M K Narayanan. The constitution of the five working groups, as announced by the Prime Minister on May 25, came up for discussion during these talks.


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