A day after Farooq Abdullah suggested third-party mediation to resolve the Kashmir issue, a high-level policy-planning group of the Congress for Jammu and Kashmir today rejected the proposal, saying the issue needs to be settled only bilaterally. The group also blamed the central and state governments for the continued killings there and hit out at them for "failing to handle the situation effectively".
The Congress leadership had formed a policy planning group for Jammu and Kashmir to take forward the peace initiative in the state. The group headed by former prime minister Manmohan Singh today met and discussed the prevailing situation in the state and expressed "deep anguish" over the developments in Kashmir. Members of the group include former Union minister P Chidambaram, former J-K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Karan Singh and AICC general secretary in-charge of Jammu and Kashmir Ambika Soni. J-K Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir and the CLP leader in state assembly are also part of the group.
National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah had yesterday suggested third party mediation to resolve the Kashmir issue, saying India should take the help of "friends" and that dialogue was the only solution.
Reacting to this, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had flayed any attempt at third party intervention to resolve the issue, saying "Kashmir is India". "It is being said there should be discussion on Kashmir with China and Pakistan but my opinion is that Kashmir is India and India is Kashmir and this is our internal matter... our internal business and no one should interfere in it," he said.
The Congress has been critical of the Centre as well as the PDP-BJP coalition government over the handling of the Kashmir situation since last year's unrest triggered by the killing of Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces.
"The group met and discussed in-depth the prevailing situation in Kashmir and was very anguished at the continued killings in the Valley. The governments, both at the state and the centre, have not been able to deal with the situation in an effective way and have not been able to resolve it despite loud pronouncements. There is nothing seen on the ground. Killings are taking place on a daily basis," Soni said.
The group also discussed the initiatives taken by the UPA government and said the present NDA government has "negated and reversed" all of those.
Sources said the group will discuss ways and means to reach out to various groups and sections in Jammu and Kashmir and hold discussions with them to help improve the situation there.
Manmohan Singh is likely to submit a report on what action should be taken in future in Kashmir, they said, adding the group will study and assess the ground situation and take initiatives for restoring normalcy to the state.