PDP President demands troops reduction in valley
New Delhi, Aug 2: Urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take some Jammu and Kashmir specific Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), President of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Mehbooba Mufti today demanded reduction of troops from the internal security and handing over the responsiblity to the state police.
In her 30 minute meeting with Dr Singh, Ms Mufti besides discussing the overall situation in the state, in the wake of recent developments, stressed the need for carrying forward the peace process with a focus on Jammu and Kashmir specific CBMs.
Hailing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for taking bold initiatives including opening of cross LoC road links and constituting working groups on Kashmir to take care of the internal dimensions of the problems, Ms Mufti stressed the need for working towards permanent and amicable settlement of the Kashmir problem, which she said is possible through spirited efforts propelled by fresh confidence building measures.
Ms Mufti said while the opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakote roads have facilitate much awaited reunion of the divided families, utility of these road links need to be extended to movement of goods to boost the cross LoC trade.
She said both the countries must pursue such CBMs with sincerity and in a time bound manner so that in the economic development, the region as a whole and both parts of Kashmir could move together, as has been the stand of the Prime Minister.
Acknowledging that the UPA Chairperson, Ms Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh were working with commitment and sincereity towards achieving the objective of peace and prosperity for Jammu and Kashmir, Ms Mufti said the Pakistani leadership also must reciprocate it by helping create a conducive atmosphere for making the peace process fruitful and result oriented.
She said without giving in to the acts of the saboteurs and hawkish rhetoric of the negative elements, both the countries must pursue the peace process with steadfastness in the larger interest of their people.
Reiterating her party's stand that bullet for bullet policy has failed to achieve any results, Ms Mufti stressed the need for ensuring relief to the people in the security situation and rebuilding their confidence in the democratic institutions which, she said is vital for sustainable peace. In this regard, she strongly advocated measured reduction of troops from the internal security and handing over the responsiblity to the state police, as was already initiated by the Prime Minister last year as a bold measures.
She said on an experimental basis a particular area of the state could be selected for systematic troop reduction and if it proves successful, the process could be then extended to other areas in a phased manner.
She said instead of rejecting it outrightly as a blasphemous suggestion, , time has come to give a serious thought to the troops reduction process which she said could go a long way in building public confidence and giving the much needed fillip to the peace process.
She said a beginning has to be made somewhere to consolidate and carry ahead the reconciliation process and it needs some bold initiative to do that as was done in Punjab, where, with the improvement in the situation, the internal security was gradually handed over to the local police.
In this regard, she sought the cooperation of all the political parties of the country, especially Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
Instead of politicising the issue, BJP must support the UPA government on its Kashmir policies as the Congress did when the Vajpayee led NDA government initiated the peace process with Pakistan in 2003.
During her meeting with the Prime Minister, the PDP president also took up the issue of granting scheduled tribe status to the Paharis.
She said while the Gujjars, living in similar environs as the Paharis, have already been granted the ST status the same should be extended to the pahari community as well.
She also demanded speedy launch of work for digging a tunnel on Zojilla pass to ensure better connectivity between the Kashmir valley and the Ladakh region.
Drawing the attention of the Prime Minister towards the plight of hundreds of students who are studying in various Dental Colleges in Bihar, Ms Mufti said that even after studying for years in these colleges and passing the necessary examinations, the degrees of these students are not recognised by the concerned statutory bodies.
She sought the personal intervention of the Prime Minister in ensuring the recognition of the degrees of these students so that they could honorably earn their bread and butter. These students are currently sitting on dharna near Jantar Mantar in New Delhi to press for their demands.
The Prime Minister positively responded to the suggestions and issues raised by the PDP President and assured to deal with the same at the appropriate levels.