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Govt is willing to talk to every group in Kashmir: PM

Last updated on: September 13, 2010 15:21 IST

Voicing concern over the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday sought to reach out to the people there, saying their grievances have to be addressed and promised talks within the Indian Constitution with those who abjure violence.

As his government weighs options to deal with the situation in Kashmir, Dr Singh emphasised on the need for better delivery of services and generating avenues for economic advancement of the people of the state.

"Unrest in the state of Jammu and Kashmir over the last few weeks is a matter of concern. The youth of Kashmir are our citizens and their grievances have to be addressed," he told top commanders of the armed forces at a conference in New Delhi.

"We are willing to talk to every person or group which abjures violence, within the framework of our Constitution," he said.

Dr Singh, however, made no mention of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, whose withdrawal from the state is being sought by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah. The prime minister is expected to discuss this issue at the Cabinet Committee on Security.

The Army, supported by Defence Minister A K Antony, is strongly opposed to the revocation or dilution of the law, arguing that the situation in the state was not conducive for such a step. Antony had articulated these views at the Congress Core Committee meeting chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi last Friday.

The group was divided on the issue, with Home Minister P Chidambaram backing the proposal for partial withdrawal of the special law that gives sweeping powers and immunity to the security personnel.

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