Mehbooba: PM wants talks, but not amid stones, bullets

Mehbooba: PM wants talks, but not amid stones, bullets

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday found Prime Minister Narendra Modi “amenable” to a dialogue with separatists in the state, but agreed that “it can’t happen amid stone-throwing and bullets”.

“The prime minister has an intention of holding talks after the situation becomes normal,” Mehbooba told reporters, after a 20-minute meeting with Modi at his residence.

The meeting comes amid growing unrest in the Valley and severe strains between her Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and alliance partner, the BJP. 

Mehbooba, who is under pressure from her party to review the coalition arrangement with the BJP, said “an atmosphere needs to be created” for a dialogue. “Talks cannot happen amid stone-pelting and firing of bullets,” she said.

Her remark is seen as an agreement with the Centre on the timing to resume talks with separatists, including the Hurriyat factions.

She reminded the Centre again that the ‘Vajpayee Doctrine’ could save the Valley. According to her, the Vajpayee doctrine had won the support from all segments, including the extremist elements in the Valley.

“There was dialogue when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister and L K Advani his deputy. They even held dialogue with the Hurriyat and others. We must pick up where Vajpayee left off,” she said.
The chief minister said, “Modi has repeatedly said he would follow in Vajpayee’s footsteps, whose policy is of reconciliation, not confrontation.”

Mehbooba also called on Home Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss the situation in the Valley, expressing hope that things would get better in two or three months.

Giving her perception of violence, which has increased in the run-up to the election to Srinagar parliamentary seat on April 9, she pressed for a “healing touch” by the Centre to douse the anger among the youth.

In her talks with Modi, the PDP chief is understood to have stressed on improving relations with Pakistan — a key factor for political stability in the Valley. 

Though the BJP has differed with the PDP on the cause of violence, she said that some young people were ‘disillusioned”, while some are being “instigated”, including by those who use social media.

After the meeting, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav played down the reports of a rift between the BJP and the PDP. “There was a communication gap,” he said referring to the rift over the MLC election issue.

Mehbooba said she also raised with Modi the Indus waters treaty issue saying it was causing a huge loss to the state. The treaty requires India and Pakistan to share waters of Indus, Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Chenab and Jhelum rivers.


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