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Centre to invite all groups for talks on Kashmir

July 21, 2010 17:47 IST

The Centre will extend invitation to all shades of opinion in Jammu and Kashmir, including Hurriyat Conference, to find ways for resolution of Kashmir issue and restore peace in the state, which has witnessed separatist-sponsored agitation for last three weeks.

Sources in the government said invitation would be extended separately to each small and major group, mainstream as well as separatists groups including both factions of Hurriyat Conference.

An initiative is already underway by the state government and the Centre was building on that to carry forward the process.

Letters of invitation would be sent to every party and group for separate meetings with the Central leaders which may include Home Minister P Chidambaram, the sources said.

This comes in the wake of repeated demands by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asking the central leadership for initiating a political dialogue with all shades of opinion in the state.

Omar had said recently in Srinagar that the Centre should talk to everybody who is willing to talk and also reach out to those who are unwilling to talk.

Citing the example of the Centre's dialogue with the Hizbul Mujahideen 10 years ago, he had said, "I think an example can be taken from the dialogue in 2000 where as a result of a ceasefire, talks were initiated with the militant outfit.

"Now obviously, it will take (a) a lot of ground work for and (b) ceasefire for the dialogue to go ahead. But I think that needs to be done," he had said.

The Centre, he had said, should try "some Track II diplomacy like the efforts made in 2000 that had led to a ceasefire and dialogue".

Chidambaram had started quiet diplomacy with the Hurriyat Conference leaders led by Mirwaiz Umer Farooq last year which came to an abrupt end after one of the moderate leaders Fazal-ul-Haq Qureshi was shot by terrorists.

The Centre also supported the move of the state chief minister for holding elections to local bodies later this year as this would help create another buffer zone in governance.

Omar had, during his meetings with the Central leadership and at an all-party meeting held last week in Kashmir, favoured holding of panchayat and municipal polls in October-November this year.

The chief minister had said his government was looking at panchayat and municipal bodies in October and November so that the benefits of governance trickle down to the grass-root levels.

"This way, we will have a vested interest among the people at large to have normalcy," Omar had said.
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