The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Massacre update for Atal

New Delhi, April 2: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed called on Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee this morning to update him on the situation in the state after the Nadimarg massacre.

Vajpayee is due to visit Kashmir on April 18.

After the 40-minute meeting, Mufti said his government was “committed to addressing the internal dimension” of the Kashmir problem. He has all along maintained that the state has no role in talks with Pakistan, saying it was New Delhi’s responsibility to deal with a foreign country. Taking care of people’s needs was the priority of the state.

Asked if his “healing touch” policy came up during talks with Vajpayee, Mufti retorted: “Can any government be opposed to this philosophy'… I feel the Prime Minister supports me.”

Both Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani backed the chief minister when the knives were out for him after the massacre of Pundits in Nadimarg.

Acknowledging that the carnage was a setback to the return of Kashmiri Pundits, Mufti said: “The perpetrators of this ghastly crime must have seen the response of Kashmiri Muslims who pulled down their shutters and observed a bandh against the massacre.

“The people have a sense of realisation. Gun-toting militants can’t now just get away with anything.”

The chief minister, however, feared that militant strikes would increase in the next few months. “They will continue to create disruptions and sabotage the process as they are finding the local support dwindling. Kashmiris want peace and nothing else, and this does not augur well for the enemies,” he said.

The present strategy is to combine development and good governance with tough security measures. Monday’s meeting in North Block, called by Advani, was aimed at chalking out a better co-ordinated security strategy for Kashmir.

Mufti also met the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, K.C. Pant. After the hour-long meeting, Pant said: “There is a perceptible change in the situation in Kashmir and we will see to it that the development programme in the state is expedited, and the four-lane north-south highway and railway projects are completed on time.”

Mufti was trying to bring Kashmir back to normal and the Centre and state governments would make a united effort to strengthen the process, Pant said.

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