Blaming Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism in India, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that India is not averse to talks but terror and dialogue cannot go together.
Talking to reporters at the high-security Nehru Guest House at the culmination of his day-long visit to Kashmir to review the security and developmental scenario, Singh exuded confidence that the environment of terror would be eliminated from Jammu & Kashmir and it would figure in the list of developed States of India.
Singh arrived on Tuesday morning and flew to the Guest House in a chopper unlike his previous visit in July when he expressed pleasure in driving through Srinagar roads. The authorities had sealed off Lal Chowk area to thwart separatists’ plan to hold protests in the city centre against the recent killing of seven civilians at an encounter site in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. A complete shutdown was observed in the Valley on Monday against these killings. The Home Minister regretted the loss of life in Kulgam incident and announced ex-gratia relief of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of victims.
Singh said that he reviewed security situation and pace of work on developmental projects. Apart from holding a meeting with Governor Satya Pal Malik, he met five delegations, four of them belonging to prominent mainstream political parties. He expressed satisfaction over the conclusion of elections in ‘fair and transparent” way.
He said he reviewed the arrangements for upcoming panchayat polls and claimed that the conduct of village polls would be a “historical step” in J&K’s history.
“I congratulate those who took part in urban local body elections. I appeal people to particulate in the panchayat polls,” he said adding that several complexities confronting the state could be resolved through democratic process. He said the people who do not believe in democracy were not the well-wishers of J&K.
The Home Minister said that during the past four months (after sacking of Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP Government), the situation has improved as incidents of stone-pelting and recruitment of fresh militants has reduced.
He said the Central Government was keen to give fillip to developmental activities in the region and Home Ministry alone has embarked on a plan to provide employment to 11000 youth. “Around 2.5 lakh youth would be engaged in Central Government sponsored schemes,” he added.
He said several powers in the world were not comfortable with India’s growing economic power and they wanted to offset it through terrorism. When asked that Pakistan Premier Imran Khan has blamed India for refusing to engage in talks, he said India walked extra mile when Prime Minister Narendra Modi sidestepped protocol to reach out to the neighboring country. “We are not averse to talks but they can’t be held when terrorism is promoted on the Indian soil.”
“India is among 6 fastest growing economies of the world. Soon it will be among top five economies,” he said.
Singh regretted the killing of seven civilians in Kulgam on Sunday and appealed to the people to refrain from marching towards encounter sites during anti-militancy operations. He said while the security forces have been asked to exercise restraint during these operations, the public must also take care. When asked
that thronging of thousands of people to encounter sites reflected that the common people were against the rule, he refused to draw any conclusions.