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Prime Minister's Closing Remarks at Roundtable Conference on Jammu & Kashmir

Presented below is the full text of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's closing remarks at the Roundtable Conference on Jammu and Kashmir convened in New Delhi on February 25, 2006:

PM's closing remarks at the J&K Roundtable

February 25, 2006

I believe that this has been an extremely useful roundtable. A wide range of views have been expressed by representatives of Political Parties, Civil Society Organisations and others.

I would like to emphasise that this is not a one off event but the beginning of a larger process which would, in the long run, look at evolving a consensus among different groups and sections of society on issues related to Jammu & Kashmir. I realise that there are certain groups outside the mainstream electoral process who have not attended this round table but as I have said earlier, this is a long term process and I am sure, they will have further opportunities to participate and contribute to the process in future. This process of reconciliation in the long run will be the foundation on which the future of Jammu & Kashmir can be built.

One common view that has emerged from this conference is the absolute necessity to maintain the unity of the state while at the same time providing adequate space for the full blossoming of regional and sub-regional identities. This will require understanding, accommodation and appreciation of the great diversity that exists in the state and wherever necessary, structural arrangements for providing full scope to the latent creativity of the people living in different regions of the state. Concrete measures ought to be taken to realise the vision of regional federalism. There was also a broad based consensus that the peace process with Pakistan should be carried forward laying particular emphasis on people to people contacts and opening up trade between the two parts of the erstwhile J&K state.

I recognise that there has been considerable improvement in the ground situation in the State on many fronts. The time has come now to work collectively to build an environment where citizens can live without fear and where the civil, human and fundamental rights of individuals are respected and protected. Meanwhile, I affirm my Government’s commitment to respect the human rights of all people. Every effort will be made that in dealing with terrorism and militancy, no innocent person should suffer. Whenever there is any violation of human rights, there must be transparent mechanisms to fix responsibility and to punish those found guilty.

I do recognise that we should carry on the task of winning the hearts and minds of the people. The problem of detention under various acts is certainly an issue of concern. I am requesting the Home Minister to form a high level group of officials to examine all current cases of detention and see whether it is possible to release all detenus against whom there are no serious cases. I think that this should be done before the end of March. I am sure, this will go a long way in assuaging the feelings of the people.

An important issue is the problem of people, particularly the Kashmiri Pandits, who have been displaced from their homes in the past. We need to create a conducive environment for their return and rehabilitation and the onus is on all of us here to do so. We also need to address the problems of 1947 refugees.

As for the development of the State, I would like to reiterate once again our commitment to the rapid progress and development of Jammu & Kashmir. My office is directly monitoring the implementation of the Jammu & Kashmir development plan in association with the state government. I assure you that resources shall not be a constraint in the path of development of the State. I believe the Finance Ministry and the Planning Commission have resolved many issues relating to next years finances for the State and the financial situation has certainly improved.

A variety of views have been expressed on the issue of autonomy and self-rule. I recognise that there are many differing views and perception on this issue. There is a need to evolve a common understanding on autonomy and self-rule for the State of Jammu & Kashmir and I am confident that working together with all groups, both within and outside the mainstream, we can arrive at arrangements within the vast flexibilities provided by the Constitution, arrangements which provide real empowerment and comprehensive security to all people of Jammu & Kashmir.

To indicate our commitment to the process begin today, I would like to announce that the next round table will be held in the second half of May in Srinagar.

New Delhi

Source: Official Website of the Prime Minister of India





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