Monday, October 4, 2010


New Delhi Oct 04 : Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Home Minister P. Chidambaram Monday separately met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the appointment of interlocutors for a renewed dialogue with separatist leaders in the troubled valley -- one of the main points in the government's eight-point agenda to bring peace in Kashmir.
"The issue of interlocutors for a peace dialogue in Kashmir was discussed in the two meetings. But there has not been any final decision as yet," an official said.
Abdullah apprised the prime minister of the latest situation in the state and also discussed the appointment of interlocutors who will begin the process of a sustained dialogue with all sections of people in Kashmir, especially the separatists, an official here said.
Sources said the team of interlocutors will be headed by a politician.
Last month, the central government laid out an eight-point agenda for peace in Kashmir, including freeing over 245 youths arrested for stone pelting. The state has seen over 100 civilian deaths in clashes with security forces in the last over three months.
The government is also mulling the removal of a number of security pickets from Srinagar and other towns.
The other big step includes the government's decision to ask the Unified Command of the state to review the disturbed areas to pave the way for removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFPSA) from areas where there has been no militant presence.
Officials said that the chief minister also sought prime minister's intervention for a special arrangement for over 6,700 Haj pilgrims from the state because there would be no direct flight to Makkah from Srinagar this year.
The national carrier, Air India, lost the bid this year to Saudi Airlines for ferrying pilgrims from India. Since Saudi Airlines does not operate from Srinagar, Kashmiri pilgrims will have to come down to Delhi before flying to Jeddah.
The state government hopes for some "special arrangement" for pilgrims from the state, an official with the chief minister said. This has happened for the first time since 2000 when direct flights for Haj started directly from Srinagar.


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