As violence escalates, PM calls for another meeting on Kashmir

August 12th, 2008 - 3:45 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) With violence spiralling out of control in Jammu and Kashmir, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for a second all-party meeting Wednesday to try to hammer out a viable consensus formula that could be acceptable to both Jammu and the Kashmir Valley. An all-party delegation headed by Home Minister Shivraj Patil that carried an on-the-spot assessment after visiting both Jammu and Srinagar over the weekend failed to arrive at an agreement on finding a compromise solution to the crisis.

“The leaders met again Tuesday but could not arrive at a workable formula or solution that would appease the people,” said a senior government functionary.

In the last meeting Aug 5, the prime minister appealed for calm and decided to send a delegation to the troubled state.

During its trip, the delegation held talks with the Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti, which has been spearheading the agitation in Jammu to press for restoration of the land transfer to the Amarnath shrine board - a demand fiercely opposed by the Kashmir leaders - besides holding parleys with the leaders of the valley.

For the last two months, both regions have been locked in unparalleled strife along communal lines over the transfer and subsequent revoking of about 40 hectares of land in north Kashmir to the Amarnath board for setting up temporary shelters for pilgrims.

This burning issue has set off an inexorable wave of protests, shutdowns and violence first in the Kashmir Valley, then in Jammu — and now back in the valley - paralysing the state.

“The leaders will report to the prime minister of their deliberations and maybe some announcement will be made,” said a senior cabinet minister.

The killing of Sheikh Abdul Aziz, an influential separatist leader, and four others Monday as he attempted to lead a march to breach the border has vitiated the atmosphere in the valley with more protesters taking to the streets and fighting pitched battles with the police.

The protest march by separatists and fruit-growers was foiled after they were bent on taking the Srinagar-Muzzafarbad highway to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan administered Kashmir to neutralise the valley’s economic blockade enforced by the Samiti.

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