M A I N   N E W S

PM: Autonomy for Kashmir if all parties agree
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
Expressing solidarity with the people of Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today chaired a marathon meeting of 20 leaders from the state and said the government was aware of the prevailing alienation in the Valley and the need to remove it.

He responded favourably to the demand of immediately sending an all-party parliamentary delegation to Kashmir to meet the families of those killed in recent violence and to hear out people’s grievances.

In a significant commitment after the four-hour meeting that ended post-10 pm, he said if consensus emerged among various parties on the demand for autonomy for Kashmir, the government would consider it within the Constitution.

“We are all servants of the Constitution. There are many shades of opinion within Jammu and Kashmir and I and my cabinet colleagues are here to show that we are serious about addressing the issue,” he said in his closing remarks after the meeting in which J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was “largely silent”.

The meet was attended by Defence Minister AK Antony, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Home Minister P Chidambaram, who said the Prime Minister had heard all parties and assured of appropriate action at an appropriate time.

It is learnt that the Prime Minister will meet PDP leaders separately as the party had boycotted the meeting, saying that it was an extension of the all-party meeting which Omar had called on July12.

At the meet, Omar faced brickbats from the BJP and the J&K National Panthers Party with the latter saying the CM had lost people’s acceptability. Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh sought an immediate session of the state assembly where Omar must regret his performance.

The BJP rued that after securing 61 per cent votes in 2008, the state government had managed to alienate people. The J&K P CCchief Saifuddin Soz asked for a parliamentary delegation to Kashmir and a delegation of editors of all major newspapers to meet the aggrieved families.

Meanwhile, some senior Congress leaders from the state did question Omar’s performance. State Congress senior vice-president Mangat Ram Sharma said Omar would do a better Union Minister while his father would be a better option as J&K Chief Minister. 





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