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PM's autonomy-for-Kashmir talk fails to cut ice


Mufti Islah,CNN-IBN
Aug 11, 2010 at 09:57pm IST

Srinagar: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remarks on autonomy for Kashmir have evoked mixed reactions. The BJP remains opposed and the separatists along with PDP say it does not provide for a political solution.

On the streets in Kashmir Vally, too, the response remained lukewarm. On the curfew-bound streets of Srinagar, there was not much movement on Wednesday and no major reaction to the Prime Ministers speech to the all-party meeting on Kashmir in New Delhi on Tuesday.

"They should have done it before. There should be serious and sincere decision which should be taken in a comprehensive manner," says a Kashmiri girl, Mehak.

For the separatist leadership the line was clear - the Prime Minister's promise of a committee to create jobs, and a push for local elections wouldn't wipe out the protests that have brought the Valley to a standstill for more than three months.

"Clubbing it with jobs and panchayati raj diluted the essence and spirit of the while statement. So I think there was a desirable content which got drowned. That is why there was a lukewarm response here," claims Sajjad Lone, Chairman, People's Conference.

To that end, it may have been the Prime Minister's signal on reviewing the case for more autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir that ignited the most interest

But a political consensus might not be easy. While the National Conference led by the Abdullahs favours autonomy, the PDP led by the Muftis want self rule along with joint control of the two Kashmirs. Meanwhile, the BJP wants Article 370 scrapped. The Mirwaiz faction of the Hurriyat Conference wants an autonomous undivided J-K while the Geelani faction wants a referendum on UN resolutions.

But as a young girl put it after more than 50 deaths, and 51 days of violence the answers may not come from what all the divergent groups want, but what they are willing to give.

"The Hurriyat should have a visionary approach. New Delhi should assure about doing something concrete on Kashmir. It should not stop at a mere dialogue. The dialogue should be put to constructive actions," says Sana Hussian, a student.

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