Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the conclusion of two-day roundtable conference on May 25, 2006 announced several sops for ?alienated Kashmiris?. He announced setting up of working group to look into the devolution of power and special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The group would look into demands of ?self-rule? and ?autonomy? in Kashmir. The self-rule was proposed first by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and later echoed by separatist group Hurriyat Conference few months back. The PDP, headed by Muftis is also recently making similar demands. Another major announcement that Manmohan Singh made was to talk to militants if they shun violence.
?We are ready to devise ways and means to interact with them?, the Prime Minister said in a reply to a query about holding talks with militants. As the final day'ssession began, initial police reports said suspected militants may have killed 10 Hindus in border district of Rajouri. Police said they had sent a team to investigate. Despite all its efforts, the government failed to get the main Kashmiri separatist group Hurriyat Conference on board. The group had backed out of its assurance that it made to Prime Minister in the first week of May that it would be attending the second roundtable.
Prime Minister made revelation in Srinagar that Hurriyat had given him an impression that they would participate. ?But it is unfortunate that they did not?, said Manmohan Singh addressing the reporters. It must be remembered that four militant groups in a press statement had warned Hurriyat of any such step and May 21 attack at political rally was one pointer to that.
However, analysts in J&K have raised questions about Prime Minister, offer to review cases of militants lodged in prison or ones who have crossed border. Prime Minister offered the Kashmiris youth, who have taken to guns and crossed border, a package if they want to return and also a review of cases of militants lodged in prisons. However no framework was announced as how it would be preceded.
While protests, demonstrations and shut down continued against reservation issue in the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh buried the issue by saying that reservation matter was over as the UPA has decided to implement 27 per cent reservation.
?We have taken a decision and the striking students should bring an end to issue. I am ready to meet anyone but a decision has already been taken on it?, he said while addressing reporters on conclusion of second roundtable.
The old statement of Prime Minister, however, was when he categorically stated that there could be no cut down in military in Jammu and Kashmir till the violence graph declines. The Prime Minister also laid emphasis on rehabilitation of families of slain militants. ?The process of nation-building should include winning back ?as our own? the destitute families of terrorists killed in police action,? he said.
He also announced the setting up of five working groups to look into confidence-building measures, strengthening of relations across Line of Control, economic development, ensuring good governance and further cementing relations between the State and the Centre. The groups would be reporting to Prime Minister Office Kashmir desk after which another roundtable would be held.
Analysts say that the statements of Prime Minister like ?zero tolerance against custodial deaths, human rights violations would deter the spirit of the security forces that are fighting militancy in Kashmir?, have come to please some separatists? elements, said a political observer.
It is to be seen what implications the Prime Minister warning holds in future for army and other paramilitary troopers engaged in war in Kashmir.
Soon after Prime Minister left for Delhi after the conclusion of the second roundtable, Islamic militants executed attack at a tourist bus killing three tourists and injuring 15 others. The tourists hail from Surat in Gujarat.
The blast occurred in the moving bus at Batapora in Zakoora area on Srinagar-Sonamarg road at around 6 pm, the sources said.
In run-up to roundtable since May 21, over eight blasts have occured and 14 people killed.