Mufti welcomes vacation of Kashmir school, hospitals by troops

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Srinagar, Oct 28 (UNI) Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today welcomed the Centre's decision to get schools and hospitals vacated in the Valley from troops by November 30.

Addressing a gathering of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) workers from Ganderbal at his residence here, he said Mr Antony's statement reflects an approach of objectivity and cooperation on his party's demand for troop reduction and scrapping of special laws.

Mr Sayeed hoped that this would be a prelude to measures of wider implication on rationalising troop concentration for internal security duties in the state.

He said vacation of civilian properties would only mark the beginning of a larger public and institutional empowerment process, which his party has been projecting for quite some time.

The PDP patron said the popular sentiment on the continued presence of heavy troop deployment in the civilian areas would have to be respected fully. ''The mechanism put in place by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after March 2007 discussions is an acknowledgment of seriousness of this problem,'' he added.

Mr Sayeed expressed the hope that the sentiments of the people would be configured in any decision on the issue. ''The people are the ultimate defenders of their land and interest and their views and voices cannot be subservient to any other consideration.'' The PDP patron said the shortest and the most workable route to eliminating human rights abuse was reconciling the presence of troops to actual security requirements and any such move should not be hampered by fossilised mindsets and imaginary apprehensions.

The announcement by the Defence Minister should provide the lead to those quarters, both within and outside the State, who have been speaking out of turn on this very sensitive issue, he added.

Paying tributes to political wisdom of the people of Ganderbal, Mr Sayeed said the 2002 revolution that resulted in political public empowerment in actual terms as a result of transparent elections could not have taken off, but for the lead provided by them.

The bold and courageous decision of the Ganderbal electorate had opened the larger Kashmir issue to new possibilities and impacted it as few other electoral verdicts had, he added.

''It was only after the Ganderbal debacle of the then ruling party that perceptible progress on resolving Kashmir issue could be made and the process was spearheaded by the elected representatives of the people,'' the former Chief Minister said.

Mr Sayeed said his party's guiding principle was its agenda of ensuring political empowerment, economic emancipation and social uplift of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. ''We would continue our struggle for shaping up a peaceful, dignified and prosperous future for our people, the foundations for which were laid in 2002.'' UNI

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