M A I N   N E W S

AFSPA dilution divides all-party meet
l PDP, NC support revocation as BJP, Sena oppose it
l All-party delegation to visit Valley to assess situation 
Anita Katyal & Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 15
As violence in Jammu and Kashmir showed no signs of abating, political leaders of all hues today set aside differences and endorsed the UPA Government’s move to send an all-party delegation to the troubled state. The delegation would take stock of the ground situation before a final political and economic solution could be worked out.

The decision was announced by Home Minister P Chidambaram at the end of a marathon four hour all-party meeting on Kashmir crisis convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence. Describing this development as a positive move, a UPA minister said it was a good beginning in working together and that it defined the government’s next move on this festering problem.

The rare show of unity culminated in a joint statement, which said that all leaders agreed that the Indian Constitution provided ample scope to “accommodate any legitimate political demand through dialogue, civil discourse and peaceful negotiations”. Accordingly, it was decided that the delegation would be sent to the state but dates were not announced. The delegation will meet a cross-section of society and provide vital inputs to the Centre when it decides on measures to reach out to the people of the state.

According to insiders, today’s meeting was unusually cordial — a UPA minister described it as “serious and conciliatory” — as all leaders expressed concern about the situation in the valley. It was unanimously felt that it was imperative to engage with the people and understand the reasons for recent upsurge in violent protests, which were not the handiwork of terrorists. Giving an account of the situation in the state, Chidambaram termed it “not normal”.

Although there were differences over the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), these did not come in the way of leaders evolving a common response to the Kashmir situation.

Spared of heated exchanges, no one — not even usual suspects BJP and PDP — sought Chief Minister Omar Abdullah’s resignation, though there was a veiled attack on the ruling dispensation. The only speaker who openly said that Omar was not up to the task was MIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi. Sharad Yadav of the JDU advocated Governor’s Rule.

There was overwhelming agreement that the process of political dialogue must resume. Most parties, with PDP’s exception — Mehbooba Mufti sought unconditional talks — favoured a dialogue with all sections of Kashmir society within the framework of the constitution. Mehbooba, who stole the show, made an impassioned plea for winning the “hearts and minds of the people” through dialogue.

Objecting to Shiv Sena Manohar Joshi’s remark that Kashmir had remained a part of India only because of the Army, she remarked, “It is said Kashmir is an inalienable part of India... this may be of the land, but how do you propose to end the alienation among the people there?” Hitting out indirectly at the Omar Abdullah, she said, the trouble in Kashmir did not start this June but had been building up ever since the current government came to power.

Mohammad Shafi of the National Conference, who was fielded by his party, defended the state government and instead put the blame on the Centre, which he said had not fulfilled its promised political commitments. He also made out a strong case for the partial withdrawal of the Armed Forces Act, which, he said, would send out a positive signal to the people.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said, “The only positive thing that emerged today was a consensus that talks must resume and the all-party delegation should set the mood for it. On rest of the issues, like revocation of AFSPA, and Army withdrawal, everyone had their own views. We sought Army withdrawal from places where peace has returned. That would automatically lead to the redundancy of AFSPA in those areas.” 

PM praised Omar?

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah chose to skip the crucial meeting but his father and NC patron Farooq Abdullah was present. Though he maintained silence during the meeting, he later told reporters that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had praised Omar. Others who attended the meeting did not seem to remember the pat on Omar’s back.








1 killed, 20 hurt as clashes continue
Ehsan Fazili
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, September 15
One person was killed while 20 others, including six police personnel, were hurt in fresh clashes in the Valley today.

With several stone-throwing incidents being reported from different areas since last night, curfew restrictions continued without any relaxation for the fourth consecutive day in the Valley.

The life continued to remain paralysed as all eyes were set on the all-party meeting held in New Delhi today to find a way out of the present crisis in Kashmir, particularly after the Eid violence. A greater significance has been attached to today’s meeting in the light of participation of the PDP, which had earlier stayed away from such meetings.

In Sopore, Mudassir Ahmad Kanna succumbed to his injuries sustained during clashes with the security personnel. The house of a senior police officer was attacked and damaged in Awantipora area of Pulwama district. In the evening, some miscreants at Kadalbal, Pampore intercepted the motorbikes of two policemen and set them afire.

Incidents of violence were reported from parts of Shopian and Budgam districts and Handwara in Kupwara district. The angry demonstrators defied curfew even as the restrictions were in force during the night hours also. The curfew continued in Srinagar city, Budgam, Chadoora, Ganderbal , Kangan, Anantnag town, Kulgam, Qoimoh, Pulwama, Shopian, Pampore, Awantipora, Tral, Tangmarg, Sopore, Kupwara, Threhgam, Kralpora, Handwara, Kulangam and Bandipora towns. Angry demonstrators set ablaze two government vehicles at Shirmal in Shopian district. Stone-throwing incidents have also been reported from Yarikalan and Ropora areas of Chadoora and Galwanpora in Budgam district. Clashes also took place at SDA Bemina, Bagh-i-Mehtab and Nowgam Chowk in Srinagar. The police chased away the miscreants and situation was brought under control, a police spokesman said.

He added the Srinagar-Jammu national highway and the Srinagar-Baramulla road were open to traffic.

Damage was caused to Patwar Khana at Sopore in Baramulla district, when a mob tried to set it ablaze last night. Timely action of the police saved the building in which damage was caused to its windows while all records were safe, the police said.

In another incident, protesters set ablaze a Municipal Committee structure at Gonipora in the Handwara area of Kupwara district.

Meanwhile, a police spokesman here today clarified that there were no reports regarding missing of any person from the Tangmarg area of Baramulla district. The police had arrested 33 persons involved in the large-scale arson on Monday last in the area who had been released on bail, the spokesman said.

Meanwhile, JKLF chairman Mohammad Yaseen Malik today said the all-party meeting on Jammu and Kashmir in New Delhi had disappointed people of the state.“As many as 63 years have elapsed but the (Kashmir) issue is yet to be resolved. The outcome of the all-party meeting has disappointed people of the state,” he said.










Koran fury claims 4 lives in Poonch

Jammu: At least four persons were killed and 45 others, including 25 policemen, were injured, some of them grievously, when the police opened fire on a mob allegedly trying to set ablaze a police station and a missionary school in Mendhar town of Poonch district this morning. Trouble erupted around 11 am when a mob of 5,000 persons took out a march in Mendhar town, 270 km from here, in protest against the alleged desecration of the Koran in the US. 



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