No changes to special status of J&K, unconditional dialogue only way forward: Congress in election manifesto

No changes to special status of J&K, unconditional dialogue only way forward: Congress in election manifesto
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Srinagar: Congress on Tuesday promised to review the dreaded Armed Forces Special Powers Act and reduce Army footprints in J&K. 

In its manifesto that was released on Tuesday, the Congress said said that Dialogue was the only way forward for the resolution of Kashmir issue. “Dialogue is the only way to understand the aspirations of the people of the 3 regions of Jammu and Kashmir and to find an honourable solution to their issues. We will take that path,” the manifesto states. 

“The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Disturbed Areas Act in J&K will be reviewed. Suitable changes will be made in the text of the laws to balance the requirements of security and the protection of human rights,” it added. 

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“We will appoint three interlocutors drawn from civil society to facilitate such talks,” manfesto says.

Here is what the Manifesto reads about Jammu and Kashmir

“Congress has stood witness to the developments in Jammu & Kashmir since the Instrument of Accession was signed on 26 October 1947. Congress affirms that the whole of Jammu & Kashmir is part of India. We also acknowledge the unique history of the State and the unique circumstances under which the State acceded to India that led to the inclusion of Article 370 in the Constitution of India. Nothing will be done or allowed to change the Constitutional position.”

It stated that the Congress has long held the view that dialogue is the only way to understand the aspirations of the people of the 3 regions of Jammu & Kashmir and find an honourable solution to their issues. “We will take that path.”

“We will adopt a two-pronged approach: firstly, uncompromising firmness on the border and ending infiltration; and secondly, absolute fairness in dealing with the demands of the people and winning their hearts and minds.

“Congress promises to review the deployment of armed forces, move more troops to the border to stop infiltration completely, reduce the presence of the Army and CAPFs in the Kashmir Valley, and entrust more responsibility to the J&K police for maintaining law and order.

“The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and the Disturbed Areas Act in J&K will be reviewed. Suitable changes will be made in the text of the laws to balance the requirements of security and the protection of human rights.

“Building a Union of States that is India is a project of inclusiveness. Jammu & Kashmir and its problems deserve a large-hearted approach that will eschew muscular militarism and legalistic formulations and look for an innovative federal solution. Congress promises to find such a solution through patient dialogue and talks with all stakeholders in the State.

“Congress promises the people of J&K talks without pre-conditions. We will appoint 3 interlocutors drawn from civil society to facilitate such talks.

“We will renew the initiatives taken by the UPA government such as UDAAN, HIMAYAT and  UMMEED to impart training in skills and create economic opportunities for the youth of J&K.

“Free and fair elections to the State Legislative Assembly will be held immediately.

“We are deeply concerned about the cases of discrimination and harassment of students, traders and others belonging to Jammu & Kashmir in the rest of India and we will ensure their safety and their right to study or do business.”