Kashmir government for resuming India-Pakistan peace process (State Roundup)

January 26th, 2009 - 4:12 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghJammu/Srinagar, Jan 26 (IANS) The Jammu and Kashmir government Monday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to restart the fractured peace process with Pakistan even as Governor N.N. Vohra asked militants “to recognise the futility” of their violent separatist campaign.Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammed Sagar in his Republic Day speech in the summer capital Srinagar made a passionate appeal to the prime minister to resume the peace negotiations with Islamabad, snapped in the wake of the Nov 26 Mumbai terror attacks that India blamed on elements from Pakistan.

“The process of peace and reconciliation between India and Pakistan has a direct bearing on the lives of the people in Jammu and Kashmir,” Sagar said after he unfurled the national flag and took salute at the parade in Bakhshi Stadium.

“We appeal to the prime minister to restart the peace process between the two countries so that distances between them are narrowed down.”

Governor Vohra unfurled the tricolour and took salute at an impressive Republic Day parade at the heavily guarded Maulana Azad Stadium in the state’s winter capital Jammu.

The governor said: “In our liberal democratic framework there is enough space for divergent thought and opinion. Dialogue is the best way for searching solutions.”

He also urged the separatists to have “faith in the democratic resolution of their grievances (and) recognise the futility and the tragically high cost of pursuing the path of conflict and violence”.

School children and contingents of the Jammu and Kashmir police, army, paramilitary Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) paraded before the podium as an army chopper showered rose petals.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, his ministerial colleagues, judges of the high court, senior civil and army officials, including the families of many of them, participated in the Republic Day celebrations at the Maulana Azad Stadium in Jammu.

Authorities said around 7,000 civilians had turned out to witness the parade, running the heavy security gauntlet.

In the Kashmir Valley, the main parade was held at the heavily guarded Bakshi Stadium in Srinagar, where Sagar said the December assembly elections in the state had been appreciated by everybody in the world and even the militants had started talking in terms of negotiated resolution of their problems. “This is a big change as everybody is fed up with violence.”

At the Srinagar stadium, school children and contingents of the police and paramilitary forces marched braving the winter chill. Students dressed in their colourful best presented cultural programmes.

National Conference president and former chief minister Farooq Abdullah was among the dignitaries present at the function. He joined the dancers for a while.

The event was held under tight security, with equipment meant to jam electronic devices installed in a bid to prevent remote controlled explosions.

Officials said the gathering at the Bakhshi Stadium was unprecedented. Ever since militancy erupted in 1990, people began staying away from Republic Day and Independence Day functions.

The two factions of the separatist Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Geelani had called for protest shutdown Monday.

Republic Day functions in other towns of the state also took place peacefully.

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