Kashmir problem limited to just 5 districts: Naidu

By V.S. Chandrasekar and Sarwar Kashani

New Delhi, May 30: The government has ruled out talks with separatists in Kashmir and insists that the problem of violence is limited to just five districts of south Kashmir while the rest of the state is “in peace”.

The government is ready for talks on “development” with all other stakeholders, says Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu, who questioned the demand for a Ramzan ceasefire.

In an interview with IANS, the Information and Broadcasting Minister said the state and central governments were making “best efforts to deal with the situation” in the Kashmir Valley which has been on the boil since the April 9 Srinagar Lok Sabha polls when eight civilian protesters were killed in firing by security forces guarding voting stations.

“We are determined to solve the problem” in Kashmir that “we inherited from previous Congress governments”, said the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief.

He rejected allegations that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-BJP coalition government led by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had failed to bring normalcy and contain surging violence in the state since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8 last year.

The militant leader’s death triggered a deadly wave of street violence that left 100 people dead in about five months of unrest last year. The year 2017 also began on a stormy note in the Valley with intermittent bouts of stone-pelting protests.

However, Naidu told IANS that the situation in the Kashmir Valley was still “better as compared with earlier UPA governments”.

“Kashmir, which is not our creation, is a 69-year-old problem. Where is the question of failing? It is all legacy of great Congress leaders.”

He said the trouble in the state was not as widespread as it was made out to be in the media.

“Other than five districts, remaining parts of the state are free from violence. Let us understand this. Except for south Kashmir, the state is in peace. In north Kashmir there is no major problem. In Jammu region, there is no major problem. In Ladakh region, there is no problem.

“It is the PDP which is saying that. Not the government. It may be their view, not our view. The point is, first restore normalcy. Allow the public life to move on.”

He said the PDP-BJP have a “political understanding (and) are making an effort to see that we work through the elected government”.

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