New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate a dialogue to contain the deteriorating situation in the Valley, and said that Modi appeared amenable to this. “The prime minister has an intention of holding talks after the situation becomes normal,” Mehbooba told reporters after the meeting.
At the meeting, she invoked former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy on Kashmir, and said the thread should be picked up from where he had left off – an apparent suggestion for talks with separatists.
“However, an atmosphere needs to be created for a dialogue. Talks cannot happen amid stone pelting and firing of bullets,” she said. “Talks are the only option,” Mehbooba said. “How long can you have a confrontation?”
During the 20-minute meeting at Modi’s residence, Mehbooba briefed the prime minister on the situation, particularly on the increase in violence since the April 9 by-poll for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency. “Talks with Hurriyat (Conference) had taken place when Vajpayee ji was the Prime Minister and LK Advani ji was the Deputy Prime Minister. We need to start from where Vajpayee ji left. Talks are the only way out,” she said.
Rising tensions between the coalition partners, the PDP and the BJP, over the handling of the security situation in Kashmir also came up at the meeting. The coalition also came under strain when the PDP lost a seat in the recently held MLC polls when an independent MLA voted in favour of BJP candidate Vikram Randhawa, leading to his victory. “Whatever happened should not have taken place. But this is an internal matter and we will resolve it with the BJP,” she said.
Referring to the increase in stone-pelting incidents in the Valley, she said there were some young people who were “disillusioned” while some were being “instigated”, often through the use of social media such as Facebook and Whatsapp. The Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said the issue would be discussed in the meeting of the Unified Command on Tuesday.
GOC-in-C Northern Command, GOC 16 Corps, GOC 15 corps, DGP J&K, IG BSF, IG CRPF, senior officers of the IB and RAW, and Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh will participate in the meeting in Srinagar. She also raised the Indus Water Treaty issue, saying it was causing a huge loss of Rs 20,000 crore to the state. Mehbooba said the prime minister assured her that efforts would be made to see how the state would be compensated for this.
Later, after meeting Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Mehbooba said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir would improve in the next two or three months, after which a dialogue could be initiated.
“I understand that the coming 2-3 months are crucial for us. I want to say that you will find the situation of Jammu and Kashmir changed. We will first restore normalcy and then talks can be initiated,” she said.
Mehbooba said the central government at the highest level would have to take a decision on initiating a dialogue.
During the meeting, at which BJP’s general secretary in charge of J&K, Ram Madhav, was also present, Mehbooba briefed Singh about the law and order situation in the Valley, where violence broke out during the April 9 by-poll for the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat. She said there had to be an end to incidents of stone-pelting and firing by security forces.
The issues would be discussed at a meeting of the Unified Command in Kashmir.
Asked about the possibility of the imposition of Governor’s Rule in the state, Mehbooba said only the central government could comment on that. The two leaders discussed steps needed to bring peace back to the Valley, where student protests against police actions have been gaining ground in recent days.
Mehbooba also raised the issue of security of Kashmiris living in different parts of the country, referring to reports of threats to them in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Singh told Mehbooba that all state governments had been instructed to provide security to Kashmiris in their states and to take strong action against anyone threatening or harassing Kashmiris.
He mentioned a home ministry advisory sent on this on Friday.