Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold talks with all political parties on Friday on the Kashmir unrest, Home Minister Rajnath Singh informed the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

The House also passed a unanimous resolution appealing to the people of the Kashmir Valley to restore peace and harmony, adding that there “cannot be any compromise on national security”.

Asserting that security forces were asked to show “maximum restraint” in using pellet guns against protesters, Mr. Singh was non-committal on their immediate withdrawal as demanded by several members during the eight-hour discussion on Kashmir.

On reports that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had moved the United Nations for a plebiscite in Kashmir, he said: “No power on earth can snatch Kashmir from us. We will not speak to them [Pakistan] on Kashmir, we will speak to them on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.”

He said Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists were issuing threats to family members of security forces and civil administration officials in the Valley. He also said slogans of “Pakistan Zindabad” would not be tolerated on Indian soil.

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad sought to know from the Home Minister whether the government was going to hand over administration of the Valley to the Army after the conclusion of the Amarnath Yatra in a few days. To this, Mr. Singh said there was no question of handing over Kashmir to the Army and rumours were being spread “deliberately”. Mr. Azad also criticised the PM for his “delayed” comments on Kashmir and making those at a rally in M.P. rather than in Parliament.

“We are discussing the Kashmir issue for the fourth time. The Prime Minister should come. He chose Madhya Pradesh to speak on Kashmir. He did not come to this House. Since when has Madhya Pradesh become the capital of the country? We know that he sits in his room in Parliament from morning to evening,” Mr. Azad said.

Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, Mr. Azad said, “He tweets if something happens in Africa. Even if something happens in our enemy country, Pakistan, he issues condemnation….when the Crown of India is on fire, shouldn’t you feel the heat?”

Mr. Azad said several confidence building measures were taken during both UPA-I and UPA-II headed by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Highlighting the steps taken then, the Congress said three roundtable conferences were held between February 2006 and April 2007 in which all shades of political opinion, except separatist Hurriyat Conference, participated. Five sub-groups were set up and several of their recommendations were implemented, he said.

Mr. Singh, while asserting that he was speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said that the PM was concerned at the situation and promised to consider sending an all-party delegation to Kashmir after analysing the ground situation.

Responding to demands for initiating a political process in Kashmir, Mr. Singh said the government was ready to have talks with mainstream parties, moderates and others. “We are ready. I will ask the Chief Minister where to start the process and with whom to talk,” he said.

“Whatever is happening in Kashmir is not because of the people of Kashmir. Whatever is happening is Pakistan-sponsored,” he said.

He lauded Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, saying she and her government had done a good job in this difficult situation.

Ramgopal Yadav of the SP sought to trace the problem to “some past mistakes” including Partition and failure to extract strong commitments from Pakistan after India’s victories in the wars of 1965 and 1971.

“A number of princely States had become a part of India under Sardar Patel but Kashmir was handled by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. Had Nehru waited for a few more days before going to UN Security Council when Indian forces were repulsing Pakistan army-backed raiders from what is now Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, these areas would have been with India,” he said.

Trust deficit: Yechury

Sitaram Yechury of the CPI (M) said there was trust deficit among the people due to a “string of betrayals.”

“There is a need to address the trust deficit in the Valley. Why are the people alienated? What is preventing this government from initiating a political dialogue,” he said, while demanding that the use of pellet guns be stopped immediately.

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