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Home > News > PTI

Easier cross-LOC movement on Kashmir meet agenda

April 23, 2007 18:33 IST

The Third Round Table Conference on Kashmir, to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Tuesday would discuss easing movement across the Line of Control and the contentious issue of providing relief to kins of militants killed in encounters.

The conference, being held after nearly a year, would discuss the recommendations of the four working groups that were set up at the end of the second round in Srinagar in 2006.

However, the recommendations of the fifth and crucial working group, which has been formed to look into Centre-State relations, could not be completed in time, official sources said.

Though majority of separatists, including both moderate and harrdline Hurriyat Conference factions, decided to boycott the conference, Hashim Qureshi, one of the founders of JKLF who now heads Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party, is the lone seperatist presence at the meeting. He had attened the first Round Table but boycotted the second one.

The meeting, which will also be attended by Home Minister Shivraj Patil, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, would deliberate on the contentious issue of providing relief to the family members of militants who are killed in an encounter.

The state government has been advocating for this contending that in the absence of state support the family members of the militants look towards the separatists and become an easy fodder for militants, the sources said.

The invitation for Tuesday's meeting were extended by the Union Home Minister to more than 40 participants.

Of the four working groups, the first was on Confidence-building measures across segments of society in the state and to improve the condition of people affected by militancy, schemes to rehabilitate orphans and widows affected by militancy, issues relating to relaxation of conditions for persons who have given up militancy.

This group also went into the issue of evolving effective rehabilitation policy, including employment, for Kashmiri Pandit migrants, an approach to issues relating to return of Kashmiri youth from areas controlled by Pakistan and measures to protect and preserve the unique cultural and religious heritage of the state.

The second group was for strengthening relations across the Line of Control and recommend simplification of procedures to facilitate cross-border travel, increase goods traffic, expand people-to-people contact, including promotion of pilgrimage and group tourism.

The third group went into economic development with an emphasis on evolving a strategy that ensures balanced growth and employment-generation, balanced regional and sub-regional development within the state.

The fourth group worked for a strategy for ensuring good governance which included making the government more effective and responsive, accountable and transparent and strengthening local self-government.

The fifth and most important working group, constituted for deciding the Centre-state relations and is headed by Justice (Retired) Sagir Ahmed, is yet to finalise its recommendations, sources said.

The Group, which was constituted on May 25, 2006, was to go into the issues of strengthening relations between the state and the Centre as also deliberate on matters relating to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian Union, methods of strengthening democracy, secularism and the rule of law in the state.

This group was also to deliberate on effective devolution of powers among different regions to meet regional, sub-regional and ethnic aspirations.

The sources said it was unlikely that there would be any consensus in this group as opinions are divided. Jammu and Kashmir's opposition National Conference was supporting autonomy and terming the "self-rule" of ruling People's Democratic Party as nothing but a finer version of its greater autonomy plan.

The Working Group has met thrice but its recommendations are unlikely to be completed before the third Conference.

The first Roundtable was held in February, 2006, which was followed by a two-day conference in Srinagar on May 24 2006. The separatists had not participated in either of these meetings.

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