Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today said the prime minister appears amenable to holding talks with stake holders in a bid to arrest the deteriorating situation in the Valley.
However, she cautioned, that “an atmosphere needs to be created” for a dialogue.
“Talks cannot happen amid stone pelting and firing of bullets,” she told reporters after a 20-minute meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence.
At the meeting, she invoked former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy on Kashmir, and said the thread should be picked up from where he had left off — an apparent suggestion for talks with separatists.
Kashmir is in the grip of increased violence since the April 9 by-poll for the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency. The security forces are under intense pressure as they are faced with almost daily protests and stone-pelting.
The army and the CRPF have received some praise for showing restraint under provocation, and also come under criticism, especially after a video showed a civilian tied to a jeep as a human shield as it drove through the streets to avoid being attacked.
“Talks are the only option,” Mehbooba said. “How long can you have a confrontation.”
“Talks with Hurriyat (Conference) had taken place when Vajpayee ji was the Prime Minister and L K Advani ji was the Deputy Prime Minister. We need to start from where Vajpayee ji left. Talks are the only way out,” she said.
Referring to the increase in stone-pelting incidents in the Valley, she said there were some young people who were “disillusioned” while some were being “instigated”, often through the use of social media sites such as Facebook and Whatsapp.
Rising tensions between the coalition partners, the PDP and the BJP, over the handling of the security situation in Kashmir also came up at the meeting.
The coalition also came under strain when the PDP lost a seat in the recently held MLC polls when an independent MLA voted in favour of BJP candidate Vikram Randhawa, leading to his victory.
“Whatever happened should not have taken place. But this is an internal matter and we will resolve it with the BJP,” she said.
She also raised the Indus water treaty issue, saying it was causing a huge loss of Rs 20,000 crore to the state. Mehbooba said the prime minister assured her that efforts would be made to see how the state would be compensated for this.