Centre should take steps for reconciliation: PDP

Srinagar: Opposition People`s Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday asked the Centre to take steps including release of political prisoners and withdrawal of cases against those arrested during last year`s summer unrest to create an atmosphere of reconciliation in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Since Home Minister (P Chidambaram) is closely monitoring the situation here, he should take steps to release the persons arrested last year and withdraw cases against the 5,000 youth who took part in last year`s protests," PDP President Mehbooba Mufti told reporters after a meeting of the party`s executive here.

She said these steps can be a starting point for creating an atmosphere of reconciliation in the state with the aim of finding a solution to the problem.

"Those who were booked last year were not militants with guns. They were just protesting under their democratic rights," she said.

Referring to the calm in the Valley this summer, Mehbooba said it was the lull before the storm if the present policies of the state government continued.

She also said her party welcomes the latest round of talks between New Delhi and Islamabad and hopes that they would substantially address the Kashmir issue.

Congratulating the people of the state for reposing faith in democratic methods of political emancipation and economic growth through panchayat elections, she demanded urgent devolution of powers to these institutions.

She said the meeting expressed its serious concern at the mounting "governance deficit" that has pushed the state into a virtual "whirlpool of corruption, maladministration, unemployment and despair".

"Development process is almost paralysed while the major initiatives taken by the previous coalition government have been almost abandoned, apparently with a sense of vengeance," Mehbooba alleged.

She claimed the ADB funded projects under Economic Reconstruction Agency are running years behind schedule with further approvals suspended, Prime Minister`s reconstruction programme is in a disarray and schemes like NUURM have failed to take off.

"Sell out of state`s vital resources continues unabated as is evident from the latest joint venture with the NHPC on highly lopsided terms of agreement," she claimed.