Asking separatists to refrain from violence during the holy month of Ramzan, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah asked them to take advantage of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that he was ready to consider autonomy if there was a consensus. At the same time, Omar said the "trust deficit" between the Centre and people of the state can be bridged by "restoring autonomy".
"This is a historic opportunity for us (PM's announcement regarding granting of autonomy) and we must take advantage of it. I appeal to separatist leaders to come to the table for talks and play their role in solving the Kashmir issue," he said, addressing the Independence Day celebrations in Srinagar. During a meeting with an all-party delegation from Jammu and Kashmir, Singh had last week said he was ready to consider autonomy for the state if there was consensus among all political parties. The CM also made a passionate appeal to the youth and separatists to stop the "cycle of violence". "This cycle of violence may please be stopped. Today is the fourth day of holy month of Ramzan. I am not a Muslim scholar but a Muslim. The month of Ramzan teaches us to pray and maintain brotherhood. Let us not use force during this month," he said. He asked the separatists to follow the foot steps of his late grandfather Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, who was in jail for 23 years
"Let us come to the table and discuss autonomy, self rule," he said. He said the prime minister is ready for talks on all issues, but appealed to the Centre not to forget the promises after normalcy is restored in the state. Abdullah asked separatists leaders not to "use this holy month" for violence. The chief minister said violence and hartals are not the medicine for curing the illness. "For the last 20 years, Kashmiris have observed hartals for five years, traders could not do business for five years, children could not go to schools," he said. "It takes two hands to clap. I am prepared to ask police and security forces not to use force if you stop stone pelting. I do not want you to indulge in stone pelting which is replied by fire and teargas shelling," he said.
"Please stop stone pelting and attacking police stations, railway stations and other public property," hesaid. Omar announced that 50,000 youth will be engaged by the government within the next few months to improve the public distribution system. "While prime minister has constituted the C Rangarajan committee to address the employment problem in Jammu and Kashmir, on the occasion of the holy days of Ramadan, I announce that the state government will engage 50,000 youth in the government within the next few months to improve the public delivery system in public services."