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Ready to address ‘genuine’ problems of Kashmiris: PM

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that his government was ready to address the “genuine grievances” of all categories of people within the ambit of the Constitution even as he hit out at Pakistan for fomenting terror in India.

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In his concluding remarks at an all-party meeting on Kashmir, the Prime Minister applauded security personnel for showing restraint in dealing with the current situation in the Valley.

“Pakistan forgets that it uses fighter aircraft against its own people. The time has come for Pakistan to answer for its atrocities in Balochistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,” Mr. Modi said.

Listing PoK as one of the four parts of Jammu and Kashmir, he said Pakistan was at the root of the current unrest. Violence, terrorism and anti-Indian activity would be dealt with sternly, Mr. Modi warned.

The meeting was convened on a day when the Lok Sabha unanimously passed a resolution appealing for urgent steps to restore peace in the Valley.

Briefing the media after the all-party meeting, the government attempted to link the Kashmir unrest with events happening in other parts of the world.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said: “The change taking place in the world between 2010 and 16 ideologically has to play a role in the Valley.”

As for talks with separatists, he said the government “will decide according to the situation” while talks with mainstream political parties was always on and “there was no reason to restart the process.”

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the proposal for an all-party delegation to Kashmir was not discussed. During a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, several parties had demanded such a visit.

Asked whether any decision had been taken on curbing the use of pellet guns, which has triggered an outrage, both ministers said an expert committee was examining the issue and a decision would be taken once the report is filed.

“We have to see the security implication as well as an alternative option. Pellet guns were used in 2010 also. It’s getting highlighted this time only. These incidents have happened before too, but this time it has got aggravated after July 8,” Mr. Jaitley said.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, representing the Congress at the meeting, said the Centre must defuse the situation, draw a road map for the beleaguered State and “assure the people” that there is a “caring government” in charge.

His party urged the government to begin talks with “mainstream parties, non-mainstream parties and other stakeholders” even as it assured full cooperation to the government.

Sitaram Yechury and Mohammad Salim of the CPI (M) and D. Raja of the CPI stressed the need for restoring peace and normality.

They called for a rethink on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and said the presence of armed forces in civilian areas should be reduced.

Left party sources they also demanded “that an all-party delegation visit Kashmir and the government engage all stakeholders to restore normality.”

With agencies