New Delhi, Aug.15 : The recent incidents of violence in Jammu and Kashmir in relation to the Amarnath land transfer row are a cause for concern, said the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Friday.
Speaking on the occasion of India's 62nd Independence Day, Dr. Singh said that in this hour of crisis, divisive politics would lead the country and its citizens nowhere.
"I appeal to all political parties to keep the long term interests of Jammu and Kashmir in view and come together to find a permanent solution to the problems of the State. The sacred shrine of Shri Amar Nath inspires all Indians to march together. This shrine is a shining example of our secular tradition, where Hindu pilgrims have been looked after for years by their Muslim brothers," he said.
"Issues related to this sacred place, especially the issue of providing the best possible facilities to pilgrims, can only be resolved in an atmosphere of peace and goodwill. Dividing people in the name of religion can complicate these issues further, which can also pose a threat to the unity and integrity of the country," he added.
Appealing to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to cooperate with the government in establishing peace in the State, Dr. Singh said: "It is my conviction that all issues can be resolved only through dialogue and peaceful means.
He also said that several initiatives have been taken to increase public investment in Jammu and Kashmir.
"We are investing in infrastructure and in education in these regions to encourage development and generate employment. Jammu and Kashmir and the North Eastern region require an era of peace for them to catch up with the more developed parts of the country. We have been taking various initiatives to promote peace and stability in these States. These initiatives will be taken forward," he said.
The Prime Minister's appeal for dialogue being the best method to resolve the crisis came as authorities in the state lifted curfew from the entire Kashmir Valley following improvement in situation in all the 10 districts.
Curfew was lifted four days after it was clamped following violence sparked by the Amarnath land transfer row.
Amid tight security, an uneasy calm prevailed in the Valley with people opting to stay indoors and shops remaining closed, official sources said.
The violence in the Valley has left 22 people dead since Monday.
The row has been on the boil since the State Government transferred 100 acres of land near the Amarnath cave to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board for setting up temporary shelters for pilgrims.
Initial opposition to the transfer came from environmentalists. Valley politicians, both mainstream and separatist, then quickly joined in, warning that the state's autonomy is in danger.
In June, the issue snowballed into major confrontation in Valley. This was followed by counter protests in Jammu, leading to a deepening of the communal divide.
State Governor S K Sinha's term in office ended on June 25 and he was replaced by former Union Home Secretary N N Vohra.
On June 28, the People's Democratic Party, a ruling coalition partner in state, pulled out opposing the land transfer, reducing the Ghulam Nabi Azad-led government to a minority.
On July 1, the State cabinet revoked the land transfer order and imposed Section 144 in Jammu.
Governor's Rule was imposed in the State on July 11 after Azad resigned from the post of Chief Minister, unable to cobble up enough support to beat the vote of no-confidence against his government.
Thereafter, there have been protests in the Jammu region. By late July, the region was completely paralyzed by protests and highway to the Valley cut off. Deaths due to violence and police firing were reported every day as the agitation spread to the interiors. This forced the Center to call an all-party meet on August 6.
In the last nine days, the government has had to move in and impose curfew, which was only lifted on Friday.