Reaching out to the people of the violence-hit Kashmir, the
central government Saturday announced that a group of
interlocutors will be appointed to hold dialogue on the Kashmir
issue and youths arrested in the recent stone-pelting incidents
will be freed soon.
Compensation of Rs.5 lakh will also be paid to the families of
those killed in the violence and the state government has been
asked to convene a meeting of the Unified Command - comprising the
chief minister, the home minister and senior army, police and
security officers - to decide on deployment of security forces in
the Valley and on the future of the contentious Armed Forces
Special Powers Act.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram made the announcements after a
meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) here, chaired
by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and attended by Chidambaram,
Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
The CCS decisions were made on the assessment of the 39-member
all-party delegation which visited Jammu and Kashmir recently, he
"An eminent person will head the group of interlocutors,"
Chidambaram said, adding it will begin the "process of a sustained
dialogue with all sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,
including political parties and groups, youth and student
organisations, civil society organisations and other
Several other measures to defuse violence and provide relief to
the victims were announced by the home minister.
"The centre will advise the state government to immediately
release all students and youth detained or arrested for stone
pelting or similar violations of law and to withdraw the charges
against them," he said.
All cases under the Public Safety Act (PSA) will be reviewed
immediately and in appropriate cases, detention orders will be
withdrawn, he said
Chidambaram said that the state government has been asked to
immediately convene a meeting of the Unified Command and to review
the deployment of security forces in the Kashmir Valley,
especially Srinagar, with particular reference to de-scaling the
number of bunkers, check-points and so on in Srinagar and other
It will also review the notification of areas as "disturbed
According to official sources, under the Jammu and Kashmir Armed
Forces Special Powers Act, the Unified Command has to take the
initial decision, if the AFSPA is to be lifted from some areas.
In Srinagar, welcoming the CCS decisions, Jammu and Kashmir Chief
Minister Omar Abdullah told reporters that the Unified Command
will meet next week.
Omar said the state government would not take any unilateral
decision on the AFSPA. "I am not a irresponsible chief minister,"
he said, but added that the "army alone cannot get to decide" on
the security situation.
The footprint of the army and the security forces in Kashmir
should be reduced, he said.
The chief minister also announced all schools, colleges and
universities and other educational institutions will reopen
Monday, as urged by the CCS. The cabinet panel alos announced
Rs.100 crore for the state government to re-build schools and
Two special task forces, one each for Jammu region and Ladakh
region, will also be set up to examine the developmental needs of
the two regions. It will focus on the infrastructural needs there.
The all-party delegation, led by Chidambaram, visited the state
following a cycle of violence, which has rocked the Kashmir valley
since June 11.
Though separatists did not accept the invitation to meet the
delegation, sub-teams of the delegation went to the residences of
prominent separatist leaders - hardline Hurriyat leader Ali Shah
Geelani, moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Jammu
and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik - and heard their
At least 108 people, mostly youths and teenagers have been killed
in firing by security forces on stone-pelting street protesters
during the past three and a half months.