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Kashmir needs political handling: Omar

Last updated on: August 2, 2010 17:17 IST

'Political initiative is needed in Kashmir'

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Battling an upsurge in violence, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has stated that a political initiative was needed to deal with the situation. However, he made it clear only a semblance of normalcy could be a precursor for such an initiative.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior ministers in New Delhi on Monday, Omar said curfew will be implemented strictly and sought additional paramilitary forces, especially the Rapid Action Force, to deal with street protesters.

"Jammu and Kashmir is a political situation. It needs political handling. It requires a political package more than an economic package," he said.


Image: Kashmiri protesters clash with police personnel
Photographs: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters
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Extra forces Yes, fatalities No

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By a political package, the chief minister said, he meant dealing with issues like Armed Forces Special Powers Act, footprint of the security forces, rehabilitation package for youngsters who are across the line of control and compensation for victims of the ongoing trouble.

Omar said Home Minister P Chidambaram had assured him help with regard to additional forces but made it clear that he (Chief Minister) wanted to keep the fatalities to the minimum.

He acknowledged that the forces were stretched in the state. He also said that restraint will have to be from both sides and it cannot be one sided.


Image: Kashmiri protesters set ablaze a government vehicle
Photographs: Reuters
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Security forces have been as restrained as possible

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"The security forces have, given the scale of the protests and the way it has been managed, been as restrained as possible for them to be. In a much shorter time space with a lesser intensity of protests, you had much higher causalities than in 2008," Omar said.

He said, "Curfews were announced and it will have to be implemented strictly. There will be no other way around this. Consequences are serious and tragic."

At the same time, he said recognising the need that the problem of Jammu and Kashmir is inherently a political problem, certain initiatives long in the pipeline are possible provided both the central government and the state government are able to restore that normalcy that is required for those political initiatives to be taken.


Image: A Kashmiri protester prepares to throw a stone towards policemen
Photographs: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters
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'There are number of elements fishing in troubled waters'

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To a question on the current violence, the chief minister said there may not be any one particular group or individual in a position to both manage, orchestrate and direct all this.

"Today I don't believe that there is any one particular group or individual that can really direct what is happening in the Valley," he said.

"While there are number of elements fishing in troubled waters, one gets a sense that what is happening there today...there are widespread protests covering a number of area but for to suggest that any one particular individual or any one particular organisation is in a position to both manage, orchestrate and direct all this will be incorrect," he added.


Image: Police patrol a curfew-bound locality in Srinagar
Photographs: Fayaz Kabli/Reuters
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