As Kashmir witnessed a sudden flare-up in violence, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Monday put off any decision on contentious issues like Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and called an all-party meeting on Wednesday to discuss the volatile situation.
The CCS meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressed distress over the "turn of events" in the valley since Saturday and signalled its intention to restart dialogue with all sections of the state, saying it is the only way forward to find an "honourable and lasting solution".
The CCS appealed to the people of Kashmir, especially the youth, to refrain from violent protests as it expressed grief over the loss of lives in the three-month-long unrest.
An official statement issued after the three-hour-long meeting, however, made no mention to the AFSPA.
The CCS meeting had set off speculation that the government could consider partial withdrawal of the AFSPA as demanded by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
"The UPA government has always held the belief that dialogue and discussion is the only way forward to find an honourable and lasting solution," a statement issued after the marathon three-hour-long meeting said.
"The CCS reiterates government's intention to restart the process of dialogue with different sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Towards this end, the CCS has decided to convene a meeting of all political parties at New Delhi on Wednesday... and elicit their views on the way forward," it said.
Hours before the meeting, the Prime Minister voiced concern over the unrest in the valley and sought to reach out to the people there, saying their "grievances" have to be addressed.
He promised talks within the Indian Constitution with those who abjure violence. Singh emphasised the need for better delivery of services and generating avenues for economic advancement of the people of the state.
Expressing the readiness to hold talks with all sections, the CCS said "the dialogue can address issues such as the trust deficit and the governance deficit".
It recalled that the UPA government had, in the past too, taken several initiatives to hold a dialogue with different political parties and political groups, including the Hurriyat.
"Those efforts did yield some results. It was -- and it remains -- the intention of the UPA government to restart the process of dialogue. The dialogue can embrace all the issues that agitate the minds of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the youth," the statement said.
"The CCS reiterates government's intention to restart to process of dialogue with different sections of the people of Jammu and Kashmir," it said.
While deciding to convene all-party meeting on Wednesday, the government hoped that following that interaction, it would be able to engage the people of Jammu and Kashmir and also take certain initiatives and measures that will build confidence among the people of the state.
At the same time, the CCS said it was "deeply distressed by the turn of events since Eid and especially the events that took place today following certain rumours."
The CCS expressed its profound grief at the loss of lives and offers its sincere condolences to the bereaved families.
"Every life that is lost and every person who is injured, besides causing immense grief, add to the complexity of the situation. The government sincerely hopes that the people of Jammu and Kashmir will heed this appeal and cooperate with the government in its efforts to ensure justice, dignity, honour and peace in Jammu and Kashmir," it said.