Manmohan Singh says dialogue only way forward to resolve Kashmir situation

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New Delhi, Sep 15 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday said that dialogue is the only way route to lasting peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing an all party meeting here, Dr Singh said: "The only path for lasting peace and prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir is that of dialogue and discussion.

"But it is also true that meaningful dialogue can happen only in an atmosphere free from violence and confrontation. Discussions can take place only if we have calm and public order," he added

He further said that the Central and State Governments have already appealed to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the youth, to eschew violence.

"I reiterate that appeal. We are ready for dialogue with anybody or any group that does not espouse or practice violence," he added.

"We have also told the State Government to restore peace and public order in order to create conditions congenial to a dialogue process. The Central Government will provide all possible assistance in this task," he said.

"Over the past few months and weeks, several leaders, from across the political spectrum, have spoken or written to me, on issues concerning Jammu and Kashmir, giving many useful suggestions,' he added.

"As a part of this ongoing process of consultation that our Government has been following, we thought it would be in the fitness of things to also seek guidance from various political parties represented in Parliament on the complex issues that we face in Jammu and Kashmir today," he said.

Appealing for peace, he expressed sadness over the loss of lives and injuries suffered by the people, the police and security personnel and the financial losses suffered by people.

"I am sure all of us share a deep sense of distress over the unfortunate sequence of events, during and after Eid, particularly in the context of a reported act by a misguided person thousands of miles away," he said.

He also said he was shocked and distressed at seeing the youth and children protesting on the streets of Kashmir.

"I was shocked and distressed to see young men and women- even children- joining the protests on the streets. While some of these protests may have been impulsive or spontaneous, it cannot be denied that some incidents were orchestrated by certain groups. What we have seen over the past three months must persuade us to reflect and deliberate on the way forward," he added.

The meeting was attended by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, BJP leaders L K Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah and leaders from various other parties.

The Cabinet Committee on Security met on Monday to consider the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from certain areas or soften some of its provisions. It was decided to defer a decision and consult political parties in the country to arrive at a consensus.

The official statement issued after the meeting accepted that there was a 'trust deficit and governance deficit' in the State, which was interpreted as a remark on the performance of the State government headed by Omar Abdullah.

The series of meeting held both in New Delhi and Srinagar over the past several weeks is because of the violence and rising death toll in the Kashmir Valley. At least 75 people have died in the last three months.

The valley has also been subjected to a series of shutdowns and frequent curfews during this period. (ANI)

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