Chidambaram expects contours of political solution to Kashmir problem to emerge

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New Delhi, Dec 9 (ANI): Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday said that the contours of a political solution to the Kashmir problem are likely to emerge in the next few months.

Addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry here, Chidambaram said: "The first and second reports of the group of interlocutors for Jammu and Kashmir dealt with confidence-building measures.

He further said that he has asked the group to now focus on finding the contours of a political solution.

Appreciating the work done by the group, Chidambaram said that it is making good progress.

Asserting that the Kashmir issue is a political issue for which a political solution must be found, Chidambaram said: "Peace and good governance are pre-requisites for reaching a political solution."

Chidambaram said that the violence being witnessed in Jammu and Kashmir is of two types and a different approach must be adopted to deal with each.

"The violence perpetrated by militants and infiltrators must be dealt with in a strong and resolute manner. On the other hand, the violence witnessed during protests by residents of Jammu and Kashmir requires deft and sensitive handling," he added

He pointed out that after the Government announced the eight-point Plan for Jammu and Kashmir recently, the situation there has improved considerably.

"This process must be strengthened. Space must be allowed for peaceful protests. Governance and delivery on the ground must improve. Visible presence of security forces must be reduced," he said

Responding to the suggestions made by the members, Chidambaram pointed out that two Special Task Forces - one for Jammu and the other for Ladakh - have been constituted to examine the developmental needs of these regions.

"The Prime Minister's Office has constituted an Expert Group under the chairmanship of Dr. C. Rangarajan to formulate a job plan for Jammu and Kashmir. It is expected that the reports of all these groups will be received by next month so that their recommendations can be considered by the Government and factored in the next year's Budget," he said.

"The Centre has released Special Plan Assistance of Rs. 100 crore to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir for improving the infrastructure in schools and colleges," he added

On the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Chidambaram stated that a proposal to amend the Act is under consideration of the Government.

He also informed the members about the steps taken for the rehabilitation of Kashmiri migrants.

Drawing attention of the members to the recent positive developments in the Valley, the Home Minister pointed out that 5,56,370 tourists visited Jammu and Kashmir this year up to December 6 which shows an increase of about 25 per cent over the number during the corresponding period last year.

"The Amarnath Yatra this year was one of the most peaceful yatras ever conducted and 4,58,000 pilgrims took part in the Yatra," he said. (ANI)

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