Kashmir solution will be based on 5 Cs; situation improving: Rajnath

Home Minister Rajnath Singh and MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh meeting LoC migrants at Nowshera on Monday.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh and MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh meeting LoC migrants at Nowshera on Monday.

Youths siding with PM’s development mantra: Dr Jitendra

Sanjeev Pargal/Fayaz Bukhari

JAMMU/SRINAGAR, Sept 11: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said today that tree of peace in Kashmir hasn’t dried up and that a permanent solution to Kashmir based on five ‘Cs’- Compassion, Communication, Co-existence, Confidence Building and Consistency-will be found even as he declared that situation in the Valley has improved significantly over the past year.
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Addressing a press conference in Srinagar and border migrants and BSF jawans in Nowshera sector of Rajouri district on Day 3 of his four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, Rajnath, accompanied by Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh, described people living in the border areas as “strategic assets” and announced increase in compensation paid to kin of Pakistan ceasefire victims’ from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. He declared that the BSF has been given free hand to deal with ceasefire violations and militants on the borders.
“The situation in Kashmir valley has improved significantly over the past year and some green shoots of peace are visible,” Rajnath Singh said and expressed willingness to meet every stakeholder to resolve long-standing issues.
Singh told reporters in Srinagar that the tree of peace in Kashmir has not dried up and that a permanent solution to Kashmir issue is based on five ‘C’s–Compassion, Communication, Coexistence, Confidence Building and Consistency.
“After meeting the delegations and holding meetings in Srinagar, I understand that the situation in Kashmir has greatly improved. I don’t want to claim that everything is completely fine but things are improving, this I can say with firm belief,” Singh said.
He said during his visit he has interacted with police and CRPF personnel and he will also meet the Army personnel.
“I am willing to meet anyone who wants to help us in resolving problems of Kashmir. There is no question of a formal or informal invitation. Those who want to talk should come forward. I always come here with an open mind,” Singh said when asked if the Government was ready to hold talks with separatists.
“If need be, I will visit Kashmir 50 times in a year. We will continue our efforts to bring peace here and this is our firm conviction,” Rajnath said.
He said the Government does not want to leave out any of the stakeholders with whom dialogue should be held.
The Home Minister asked Pakistan to stop infiltrating militants in the State so that peace with dignity can be restored.
“While paying tributes to ASI Abdul Rasheed, I again saw the picture of his daughter Zohra. I cannot forget her face. We want smile and happiness on the face of every youth of Kashmir and we will continue our efforts in this regard,” he said.
Rasheed was shot at and injured by militants in Anantnag district. He later died at a hospital.
The Government, he said, had made sincere efforts for improving relations with all neighbouring countries including Pakistan right from the day it took office in May 2014.
“The Prime Minister invited Premiers of all neighbouring countries to the oath ceremony. The intent was clear that we invited them not for shaking hands but for heart to heart relations. The Prime Minister broke all protocol and went there to attend a function. We made all out efforts.
“Atal Behari Vajpayee said we can change friends but not neighbours. But what is the neighbouring country (Pakistan) doing? They are infiltrating terrorists here. I will ask Pakistan that it should stop. We have never said that we do not want good relations with neighbours, we want it.
“Be it Vajpayee or PM Modi, everyone has made an effort but Pakistan has not responded the way it should have,” he added.
The Home Minister said there was lot of speculation when he spoke about permanent solution to the problems of Kashmir.
“Our permanent solution is based on five ‘C’s — Compassion, Communication, Coexistence, Confidence Building and Consistency. We will continue to strive for peace with honour and dignity of the people of Kashmir,” he said.
On the legal challenge to Article 35A of the Constitution, which bars people from outside Jammu and Kashmir to acquire immoveable property in the State, Singh said the Centre has neither initiated any action nor gone to the court in this regard.
“There is no reason for doubt or speculation on this issue. Unnecessarily an issue is being made out. Central Government has not initiated any process on this issue, we have not gone to the court. I want to assure that — I am not talking about only Article 35A, whatever our Government does, we will not do anything against the sentiments of the people. We will continue to respect that.
“I think there are no issues left. It is very unfortunate,” he added.
Singh said he has reviewed the Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) for Jammu and Kashmir and work is going on the projects under this programme.
“Some of the projects are big and there has been some cost escalation as well. The total worth of the package has now gone over Rs one lakh crore due to cost escalation.
“However, I have told the officials that the cost escalation should not come in the way. Detailed project reports should be prepared and work started on these projects,” he added.
Asked about the allegations that NIA was being used to pressurize separatists, Singh said it is an independent investigating agency and the law will takes its own course.
“We have nothing to do with it. They must have evidence based on which they are acting,” he added.
Asked if any of the 55 delegations raised the issue of revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the State, Singh said no one raised this issue.
On the use of pellet guns for crowd control, the Home Minister said this equipment was being used very sparingly now.
“Last year we looked into the alternatives to pellet guns and introduced PAVA (grenades). Though it was not very effective, the pellet guns have been used less compared to earlier,” he said.
Singh appealed to all countrymen to visit Kashmir for tourism and trade saying there was no danger in visiting the Valley.
“I want to appeal to all people from India and around the world who are into tourism to visit Kashmir. People of Kashmir are ready to welcome you, they want to make it heaven again and take it back from the hands of terrorists. There is no danger here,” he said.
He said the Centre will launch a special promotional drive to promote tourism in Kashmir.
Rajnath said security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have been asked to treat youngsters, who might have committed some mistakes, under the Juvenile law and not like criminals.
Security forces have also been asked to avoid use of excessive force while dealing with law and order situation, he said.
“I appeal to the youth not to be swayed by the attempts of some people and stay away from stone-pelting. We all including the Prime Minister are concerned about the future of the youth,” he said.
The Home Minister said the people of Jammu and Kashmir want to shape their destiny and future by their hard work.
“Terrorists have destroyed many generations and we will not allow them to destroy one more generation. I have told the security forces to treat youngsters, who might have committed some mistakes, under the Juvenile Act. They should not be treated as criminals,” he said.
“However, we will be firm in our response to terrorists and their activities.” Singh said.
When asked about statements of RSS and BJP leaders on issues like 35 A and Article 370, Singh said that he is the Home Minister and his words should be only considered as truth.
“They say there is a difference between the two. Forgive me, I think that as far as the BJP is concerned, BJP is a political party. RSS and other such organizations can be there, some are social, some cultural and some socio-cultural organizations. I am here as a leader of a political party – the BJP – as well as the Home Minister, so what I tell you, you should consider only that  as truth”, he said.
Addressing the border migrants and BSF jawans separately in Nowshera town of Rajouri district this afternoon, Rajnath, accompanied by Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh, described people living in the border areas as “strategic assets” for the country and announced series of welfare measures for them including increase in compensation for those killed or rendered disabled in Pakistan shelling and firing.
The Home Minister declared that the BSF has been given free hand to deal with situation along the borders and announced that the Government was working to seal border with Pakistan and Bangladesh with technological solutions.
“People living in the border areas are our strategic assets,” Rajnath said while meeting with the people at Government Boys Higher Secondary School in Nowshera town of Rajouri district, where they had been camping for past few months after deserting their houses on the Line of Control (LoC) due to mortar shelling and firing by Pakistani troops in which some civilians were killed and injured while a number of cattle had perished and houses were damaged. Pakistan has suffered massive devastation in retaliatory firing by the Indian troops.
Rajnath announced that the Government has increased compensation for all civilians, who were killed in Pakistan ceasefire violations, from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. Similarly, he said, the people, who suffer more than 50 per cent disability due to shelling and firing, will also receive an equal amount of compensation.
In another significant announcement for the people of border areas, Rajnath said he has instructed the authorities to increase recruitment of people living in border areas in the security forces. He added that the border areas would be given adequate representation in the recruitment of five Indian Reserve Police (IRP) battalions.
He said border youth will be given 60 per cent representation in five IRP battalions.
Asserting that the BSF has been given free hand to deal with ceasefire violations by Pakistan on the borders, the Union Home Minister said: “the BSF will stick to its policy of ‘no first fire’ but if fired upon, it will not count bullets in retaliation”.
He said India has today become a powerful country to reckon with in the world, Rajnath said the Government was working to seal the borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
“We are working on technological solutions to seal the borders with two neighbours including Pakistan to stop infiltration by the militants,” he said and added that BSF is not only the first line of defence but also the first wall of defence.
Rajnath assured people living in border areas of the Jammu region that India was taking steps to ensure Pakistan was forced to stop firing.
“Just wait for some more time. Pakistan will be forced to stop firing. If a single bullet is fired from Pakistan, then India should not count the bullets fired in retaliation,” he said).
Over 5,000 people living along the LoC were forced to move out their homes in Nowshera sector four months ago in the wake of heavy firing and shelling by Pakistan forces.
Singh said, “Whether they (Pakistan) stop firing today or tomorrow, they will have to stop firing and ceasefire violation.”
“Don’t fire first because Pakistan is our neighbour,” he recalled as having said.
He said, “former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to always say that friends can be changed but not neighbours.”
Singh said he had conveyed to the BSF DG that if a single bullet was fired from across the border, then bullets fired in retaliation by the Indian side should not be counted.
He said, “The situation was better to an extent. The situation is better now also. I hope that the situation in the future will better too.”
The Minister, who visited border camps and interacted with migrants including woman and children, assured them that steps would be taken to mitigate their problems.
“Whatever is possible I will do. People across the country have great respect and regard for the residents of the border areas. People in the border areas are facing unnecessary problems,” he said.
The Minister said he had told the director general of border-guarding force Pakistan Ranger in 2015 that Pakistan was resorting to firing violating certain protocols which should be respected and followed.
“India is not a weak nation now. It has emerged as a powerful country under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. No one in the world now considers India as a weak nation.
“The image and prestige of India has increased globally as compared to the past,” he said.
The Minister said that recruitment in paramilitary forces also would be undertaken from border areas.
The migrants, during their interaction with Singh, made a strong demand for setting up of “bunkers” at their homes along the LoC.
“Our first and foremost demand is that the Government should set up bunkers in each of the border houses if we have to live again along the LoC. We need bunkers more than food,” Jangarh resident Parshottam Kumar, the president of the Border Migrants Coordination Committee, told Singh.
The Home Minister visited one of the six camps set up in Nowshera by the Government for the migrants.
Former Sarpanch of Kalsian border hamlet Bahadur Choudhary said, “If we have bunkers in our homes, we will not leave our homes at all.”
Showering praises on the BSF for working under extreme difficult circumstances, the Home Minister said: “I know you are working in challenging conditions. But I am sure you have joined the forces due to love for this country”.
Lauding courage and bravery of the BSF jawans manning the border, he said the BSF has helped in inculcating the belief among general public that they are safe as one of the best border guarding forces in the world.
“The BSF is guarding the border from external threats due to which it has earned the name as `First Wall of Indian Defence’. In view of this, safety and security of our soldiers is prime concern of the Government and, therefore, we are getting best surveillance equipments under modernization programme of the BSF,” he said, adding that latest technology gadgets and equipments will be inducted in BSF to give it more effective domination of the border and reduce work load of the jawans.
He told the BSF jawans that the Government duly recognized their contribution towards national security and is always eager to address their concerns.
Rajnath said that Pakistan has to stop ceasefire violations either today or tomorrow.
“Pakistan is repeatedly firing and targeting Indian posts and villages, but it has to stop ceasefire violations either it does today or tomorrow,” Singh said.
“Pakistan is doing it since long and in 2014 too it heavily shelled the border villages,” he said and added that situation since then has improved a lot on the borders and it will further improve. He added that he will keep visiting the border belts and interact with the border people and jawans.
Additional Director General of BSF, Western Command Kamal Nayan Chaubey and IG BSF, Jammu Frontiers, Ram Awatar briefed the Home Minister on the situation prevailing along borders and steps taken by the BSF to counter infiltration attempts by the militants and ceasefire violations by Pakistan.
Earlier, on his arrival at Jammu, Rajnath was received by Legislative Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta and Minister for Information, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Zulfkar Ali.
Speaking at the press conference, Union Minister of State in the PMO, Dr Jitendra Singh said a major change has been witnessed in the mindset of Kashmir youth after situation was controlled in the Valley as they now want to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development path.
“A very major change has been witnessed in behaviour of Kashmiri youth. They want to become part and parcel of Centre’s development and employment approach. A sea change has been witnessed in their (the Kashmiri youths’) mindset,” he said and pointed out that the number of youths from Jammu and Kashmir cracking Civil Services Examination, IIT and other major qualifying services and examinations has increased manifold.
Describing this as “major and very positive development” in Kashmir, Dr Jitendra Singh said the programmes and policies of Centre Government  has brought out a major change in Kashmir especially its youth, who now want to join the mainstream and become part of India’s development and employment opportunities.


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