Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that India is ready for talks with Pakistan but added that it cannot take place as long as Islamabad continues to support terrorism.After reviewing the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the home minister pointed out that the state has witnessed a a big shift as incidents of stone-pelting have come down and the recruitment of militants has also decreased.
During his meeting with representatives of various political parties in the state, the home minister appealed to all of them to participate in the upcoming panchayat polls in Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir: Home Minister Rajnath Singh to visit state today for reviewing security situation
Asked about the controversy over Article 35-A, the Union Minister said the Centre has no proposal to change any constitutional provision regarding Jammu and Kashmir.
He congratulated the state on the successful conduct of urban local bodies elections in a fair and transparent manner and said the holding of ULB and panchayat polls in the state is a historical step.
“Biggest of problems can be faced and issues resolved through democratic means. Many problems of Jammu and Kashmir can also be addressed through democracy. I appeal to people of the state to take part in this festival of democracy,” he said at a press conference here.
Singh said those who do not believe in democracy can never be well-wishers of people.
The National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party had boycotted the recent urban bodies election in Jammu and Kashmir.
Singh told reporters that as far as talks are concerned, the government has no problem in holding dialogue with anyone.
“But there is a condition from our side. At least, they should see that Pakistan is sponsoring terrorism in India and promoting terrorism also. Give us this much of assurance that there will not be any such attempt by Pakistan. Terror and dialogue both can never go together,” he said.
Asked if there was any initiative to hold talks with separatists, Singh said the government will talk to anyone who is willing to enter dialogue, but refused to elaborate.
“Government will not shy away from talks. We have been saying this time and again, anyone who wants to talk, we are ready,” he said.
Singh said India has made all efforts on its part but Pakistan did not take any positive step to improve ties.
“Our Prime Minister, breaking all protocols, went there and met Pakistan Prime Minister, met his family members. Why did he meet? Our relations should be neighbourly. But from their side, they did not take any positive step,” Singh said.
In response to a question, the Home Minister said the Centre has no proposal to change any constitutional provision regarding Jammu and Kashmir.
“There is no initiative by the Centre on this (Article 35-A). The provisions in the Constitution are there and the Centre has not tinkered with any of those provisions. It is difficult to answer when a non-issue is made into an issue,” he said.
The Home Minister said the Centre and the state government are working together to improve the life of people of the state.
“We want to engage the youth of the state in a constructive way. The state government along with the Centre has taken several initiatives in this regard. Through the Home Ministry alone, we are providing 11,000 jobs by various initiatives which will be implemented in several stages.
“Through various schemes of the central government, steps are afoot to provide employment to nearly 2.5 lakh youths of the state. Our government will provide all assistance needed that will help the youth of the state to chart their own destiny,” he said.
On the local bodies elections, Singh said it was for the first time that an attempt has been made to empower the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh through devolution of power.
Every panchayat of the state will get Rs 60 lakh to Rs 70 lakh every year for carrying out development works in their respective areas, he said.
“The aim of empowering these bodies is to make them autonomous so that they can resolve their issues,” he said.
On Centre’s interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma, the Minister said he will continue in his role till talks are held.
He termed as “very unfortunate” the death of seven civilians in a blast after an encounter had ended in Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir and appealed to people not to venture such places where security operations were on.
The minister also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for next of kin of the deceased.
“If there is an operation by security forces, I appeal the people that they should not try to go there. The security forces do take precautions and we have repeatedly directed them to do it,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)