The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Call for unconditional Kashmir talks

Srinagar, Nov. 21: Jammu and Kashmir Governor G.C. Saxena yesterday urged the Centre to initiate a serious, result-oriented and unconditional dialogue with the state’s elected representatives and others for durable peace.

The Governor’s address, which is basically a policy statement of the new government, speaks of the healing touch but emphasises “there would be no compromise on security concerns”.

Saxena, while addressing the joint session of the state legislature, listed the “coalition government’s roadmap for the future”.

“Historic opportunity is knocking at our doors and we don’t want to miss as it is destined to usher a peaceful and prosperous future for the coming generations,” he said, adding that the “environment of despair would be turned into a prospect of hope”.

To achieve this goal, “it is essential to make a beginning by giving a healing touch to the situation and by reaching out to those who feel alienated,” Saxena said.

“Due to unfortunate happenings of (the) last 13 years, people are living in a constant state of insecurity,” he added.

“All sections of society, particularly the youth and the children have grown in the shadow of fear and their psyches scarred and emotionally damaged. Our people feel dehumanised and brutalised. This tragic phenomenon creates an environment conducive to the growth of disillusionment, anger, frustration and violence. This environment has to be changed.”

Elaborating on the new government’s strategy to deal with the situation, Saxena said that the “government would review the cases of all such detainees, held on non-specific charges, not charged with serious offences or held on charges the possible sentence for which is less than the period they have already spent in jail. They shall be released.”

“All such laws would be reviewed that deprive the people of their basic right to life and liberty, guaranteed under the constitution,” the Governor added.

“Whenever necessary to retain some special powers, the government will ensure that such laws are used sparingly and those entrusted with implementing them are held accountable for any misuse. This will be done by instituting careful and transparent pre-screening and monitoring procedures.”

Saxena reaffirmed that there was no need to resort to the Prevention of Terrorism Act because “the existing laws are adequate to deal with militancy”.

“The government would provide a healing touch to the situation of despair. But it is alive to the legitimate security concerns of the state. The government will stand firm and steadfast in discharging its obligations under the Constitution,” the Governor said.

“All possible measures would be taken to protect the people from violence and militancy, whether originating from within or outside the state.”

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