Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the doors of the government were open for addressing “grievances” of all sections in Jammu and Kashmir under the Constitution but made it clear there cannot be any compromise with the nation’s integrity.
An All Party Meeting convened by the Centre to discuss the current unrest in Kashmir was told by Modi that the Centre was committed to finding a permanent and peaceful solution as per the basic tenets of the Constitution.
“We all are committed to the national sentiment that there cannot be any compromise with the country’s integrity.
“We are ready to address the grievances of all sections under the Constitution,” Modi told the marathon four-hour meeting, adding his “heart was pained” over the 35-day unrest that has claimed the lives of 55 people.
Modi, who chaired the meeting attended by its ruling ally PDP and opposition parties, also targeted Pakistan and said Pakistan-occupied Kashmir(PoK) is also part of Jammu and Kashmir.
Modi minced no words in terming cross-border terrorism supported by Pakistan as the root cause of turbulence in the Valley and said the time had come to expose the atrocities committed “by our neighbouring nation” in Balochistan and the areas of Jammu and Kashmir under its illegal occupation.
The meeting was convened on a day when the Lok Sabha unanimously passed a resolution, appealing for urgent steps to restore order and peace in the Valley while asserting that there can be no compromise with the country’s integrity and security.
The PDP said the concern shown for Jammu and Kashmir at the meeting was “noteworthy” but it should be followed by confidence building measures to set off the democratic political process.
Some opposition parties demanded that an All Party delegation be sent to Kashmir.
But, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who was flanked by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at a news conference, said before sending such a team, the state government has to undertake some ground work.
“Once state Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti informs me that the ground work has been done, we will consider sending it,” Singh said.
Asked whether any decision had been taken on curbing the use of pellet guns which has triggered an outrage, both Singh and Jaitley said an expert committee has already been formed by the Home Ministry and once a report is filed, a decision will be taken.
“We have to see the security implication as well as an alternative option. The pellet guns have been used in 2010 also. It’s getting highlighted this time only,” Jaitley said.
Jaitley said all the political parties spoke in one voice and came out and put forth their views in right intent.
Singh said the Prime Minister called for launching a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan by “exposing” its actions in Balochistan and PoK.
The Prime Minister asked External Affairs Ministry to get in touch with residents of PoK settled in various parts of the world and gather information about the “pathetic state of affairs” there and inform the world community about it.
“Whatever lies Pakistan may spread, the world will not fall for its propaganda and disinformation,” Modi said.
He said the neighbouring country has forgotten that it uses its fighter aircraft to bomb its own people. “Now the time has come that Pakistan will have to give an account before the world of the atrocities committed on the people of Balochistan and PoK,” the Prime Minister said.
Asked about the take away from the meeting, Jaitley said all parties are on the same opinion and the national approach is broadly consensual and there was no laxity in the government’s policy on Kashmir.
“Consensus is there will be no compromise on terror or with separatism. Security alertness will be utmost and using this as the base, we will try and ensure that normalcy returns so that as far as average citizen is concerned, life returns to normal,” he said.
Jaitley added that there will be no lowering of guard as far as security is concerned, but security forces will act with restraint.
“Terrorism and violence will be dealt with effectively. As far as the life and comfort of people of ordinary people is concerned, we shall try and ensure that life is brought to normal as far as their circumstances are concerned,” he said.
During today’s meeting, Congress and Left parties called for talks with mainstream and non-mainstream parties and “other stakeholders” and stop use of pellet guns.
Making a strong pitch for “healing the wounds” of Kashmir to defuse the “extremely tense and tragic” situation, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad insisted that what is important is to “heal the wounds and not to close the doors of dialogue. Win the hearts and minds of people in general and youth in particular.”
This, he said, should be done by “cajoling,….love and affection as we cannot win over by confrontation”
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was the first speaker at the meeting, said it is for the government of India to come up with a roadmap for defusing the situation.
Azad quoted Singh impressing upon the government that the “most important thing” at the moment was to defuse the present situation.
“We assure the Government that any positive step to resolve the issue in Kashmir, they’ll have our full co- operation”, Singh said, adding that during the 10 years of UPA, efforts were made to find “practical & pragmatic” solution to these issues.
CPI(M) sought immediate start of a dialogue with all stakeholders to restore normalcy in the Valley and asked the government to take a series of confidence-building measures including stopping the use of pellet guns to quell the ongoing unrest there.