M A I N   N E W S

8-point initiative for Kashmir
A team of interlocutors will hold ‘sustained dialogue’ with all sections of society
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 25
The Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) rolled out an eight-point agenda to deal with raging issues in the strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir. The agenda has a humane face and aims at tackling aspects that have rankled the Kashmiri psyche, especially after the spate of deaths in protest and curfew related incidents in the past few months.

The CCS chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the bold initiative that sends out a clear signal that the government was ready for talks to solve matters while not forgetting the sentiments of the Hindu-dominated Jammu region as also the militarily important Ladakh region. The agenda is aimed at youth. It even hints at a method by which the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) — a major sore point with the Kashmiris — could be withdrawn from some areas of the state.

The Union Home, Minister P Chidambaram, announced the agenda this evening. It says the government will appoint a group of interlocutors under the chairmanship of an eminent person to begin the process of a “sustained dialogue” with all sections of the people of J&K, including political parties, groups, youth and student organisations, civil society organisations and other stakeholders.

The CCS decided to “request to the state government to review the notification declaring areas as disturbed areas”. This means, in case the government decides to rescind the notification of “disturbed areas” from some key cities, the AFSPA will automatically not apply to those cities. Sources said the state’s summer capital of Srinagar could be one such city to start with. In Manipur, the AFSPA has been lifted from the capital city and this was one of the suggestions that emerged from the recent visit of the all-party delegation to Kashmir.

The major grouse of the Kashmiris of “militarisation” will be addressed. A meeting of the Unified Command of forces will be convened immediately to review the deployment of security forces in the Valley, especially Srinagar, with particular reference to de-scaling the number of bunkers and check-points in the city.

The CCS also “advised” the state government to review the cases of all detenues under the Public Safety Act, 1978. The PSA is a strict law that enables the police to arrest a person and keep him in jail without any trial for a year.

The CCS also decide to “advice” the state government to immediately release all students and youth detained for stone pelting or similar violations of law. The government okayed an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh per person killed in the civil disturbances since June 11 this year.

The CCS appointed two special task forces, one each for Jammu and Ladakh, to examine the developmental needs of the two regions, with particular reference to deficiencies in infrastructure.

The state government has been asked to reopen all schools, colleges and universities.

It has also been advised to hold special classes/lectures, if necessary, and to ensure that the examinations for the current academic year (2010-11) are conducted.

The union government will provide a sum of Rs 100 crore as additional Central assistance (ACA) in order to make grants to schools and colleges ”for improvements and additions to the existing infrastructure”.





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