Narayanan hopes Kashmir will be normal in 10 days (Lead)

August 30th, 2008 - 11:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 30 (IANS) National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan has said the government is hopeful of restoring normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir “within next week to 10 days”, stressing the situation in the valley was “far less serious” than being portrayed.Asked when he thought Kashmir would return to anything like a semblance of normalcy, Narayanan told Karan Thapar in the Devil’s Advocate programme: “We are hopeful that this (normalcy) could be achieved within next week to 10 days.”

Thapar further asked if he meant that Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, was going back to what it was like in June.

“Well, may not be June, but I mean, signs of normalcy in the sense, what you can.”

The programme will be broadcast Sunday evening on the CNN-IBN news channel.

The land transfer meant for creating facilities for Hindu pilgrims to the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas and its subsequent revocation have had Jammu region and the Kashmir valley on the boil for the last two and a half months. At least 50 people have been killed, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, in the agitation.

First Muslims in the valley protested against the land diversion and later Hindus demonstrated against its revocation. The issue has reinvigorated separatist sentiments in the valley with huge anti-India demonstrations taken out during the last fortnight.

The situation in the valley was being compared to that of early 1990s, when armed uprising against the Indian rule erupted in the state. The stir over the land row has meant a huge setback to peace moves in Kashmir, which was fast returning to normalcy with tourists flocking to the valley just a couple of months ago.

However, the national security adviser, who visited the valley last week, said it was “far less serious” than what was being portrayed.

“Certainly we are unhappy about it. But the situation is nowhere close to what it was in the 1990s,” he said.

Talking about the land transfer to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, Narayanan said it was a mistake uncalled for.

“It was the blockade (of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway) that created confusion. We are trying to reduce agitation in Jammu,” he said.

He said that there was an improvement in the last four years in the state and that the government had reduced levels of alienation.

He also denied that the protests in the Kashmir valley were spontaneous mass movements.

About the killing of senior Hurriyat leader Sheikh Aziz, Naraynan reiterated that it was not the police who killed him but hinted that militant groups might have been involved.

“I am on record on saying that we would like to know who did the shooting, it wasn’t done by the (police),” he said.

“This is the concern even amongst (the) Hurriyat and others, saying that who is now amongst us, who is trying to eliminate some of us?”

Asked if he had any idea who killed Aziz, Narayanan said: “You’ll know at the right time, when we are sure of who it is, or which group was responsible.”

But he refused to speculate on the suspects even as Thapar asked if the finger pointed across the border to Pakistan.

“No, we have no facts at the moment about A or B or C, what we are clear at the moment is this was not the police,” he said.

“He (Aziz) is not the martyr to the cause. He has been made out to be. He was shot in the back. It was certainly not the police.”

Narayanan also said the separatist Hurriyat Conference was not the principal voice in Kashmir. There were mainstream political parties also, he said.

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