Stating that the situation in the Valley was better than what it was during the tenure of UPA government, Union Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu has said that the government is ready for talks on ‘development’ with all stakeholders except pro-freedom leaders.
The union minister claimed that the problem in the Valley is limited to just five southern districts while the rest of the state is peaceful.
Naidu said the state and Centre were making “best efforts to deal with the situation” in the Kashmir valley, which has been on the boil since Srinagar Lok Sabha polls held on April 9. Eight civilian protesters were killed in the firing by security forces guarding the polling stations.
“We are determined to solve the problem in Kashmir that we have inherited from the previous government at the Centre,” said the former BJP chief.
He rejected allegations that the PDP-BJP coalition government-led by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had failed to contain violence in the state since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8 last year.
Naidu said that the situation in the Kashmir valley was “better as compared to the situation of the state under UPA government”.
He said, “Kashmir, which is not our creation, is a 69-year-old problem. Where is the question of failing? This problem is the legacy of great Congress leaders.”
He said the trouble in the state was not as widespread as it was made out to be in the media. “Other than five districts, remaining parts of the state are free from violence. Except for south Kashmir, there is peace in the state. In north Kashmir there is no major problem. In Jammu region, there is no major problem. In Ladakh region, there is no problem.
“Kashmir is not four south Kashmir districts. There is a problem. We have to solve it but at the same time, we have to send a message across the border that we will not accept terrorism.”
Asked about a possibility of a ceasefire during the current month of Ramzan that culminates in Eid celebrations, the minister said it was for the Home Minister to look into the demand. But he questioned the very demand itself.
“Ceasefire by whom? Won’t there be any stone-pelting? There won’t be any terrorist activity? Will somebody give us an assurance? Suppose people were observing Ramzan and then there is an attack, who will be responsible.”
Asked about talks with pro-freedom leader groups in the Valley, Naidu said all previous efforts of dialogue to solve the Kashmir issue have failed. “How many years have we been talking? It has become a fashion for some people to make such demands and then be in news. Otherwise what is there in talks?”
Asked if he was clearly ruling out talks with the pro-freedom amalgam Hurriyat Conference, the Minister said: “All I am saying is there is no question of disintegration of Kashmir.
There is no question on the integrity of the country.”
“There are issues of development, lack of development in a particular region. There is no question of giving one inch of land to anybody. We can talk about development with all. Why are we mentioning separatist? We are willing to talk with all Kashmiri people who are part of India.”