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We were ready for talks, but Hurriyat shut doors: Rajnath

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Says govt ready for polls in J&K along with general elections if EC wants

Srinagar/New Delhi, Jan 03: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday told the Rajya Sabha that Centre was ready to hold talks with Hurriyat leadership but the doors were shut on it by the latter when the all-party delegation went to them.

Dismissing the charge that the government was not willing to talk with separatists in Kashmir, Singh said “a perception was being created that BJP doesn’t want to talk to Hurriyat.  And then we asked people to go there (Kashmir) and have talks with them (Hurriyat). And when all party delegation went there to talk the doors were shut for them.”

Singh told the upper house of parliament that he had also assured former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti when her party was in power in J&K in alliance with the BJP, that the Centre was willing for an “unconditional” talk to end the stalemate in the Valley.

“If they (separatists) had agreed to talk, perhaps we could have found some or the other way (to resolve conflict),” the Home minister said, adding that he had told then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to try and speak to Hurriyat. “We were ready for unconditional talks. They (Hurriyat) did not respond to our initiative.”

In May, last year, Mufti had urged separatists to respond to the Centre’s appeal for talks. Singh had then reportedly said: “If Hurriyat is ready to talk, we have no problem, we are ready to talk to anyone. Even if Pakistan comes for dialogue, we are ready for it!”

Mufti had then welcomed Singh’s assertion that the Centre is ready to talk to every stakeholder including Hurriyat Conference if it comes to the table. However, the separatists were not ready for it as they spurned the offer.

Home Minister also said the government was willing to hold elections in Jammu and Kashmir along with General Elections which are slated to be held by May.

Jammu and Kashmir was last month placed under President’s rule, six months after the BJP pulled out of Mehbooba Mufti-led government and the state was put under Governor’s rule.

“If Election Commission wants (to hold elections in state along with general elections), our government will have no objection,” Singh said replying to a debate on proclamation of imposition of Central rule in the state.

He said there would be no obstruction from the Centre for holding elections in the state.

“We are willing to provide whatever security force Election Commission wants for holding elections there” he said.

After 1996, this is the first time the Central rule has been imposed in the militancy-hit state.

Rejecting opposition criticism that BJP’s “unnatural” alliance with PDP had alienated the population, Singh reeled out statistics to drive home the “development without appeasement” agenda of his party.

“There was no conspiracy not to allow any other party to form the government,” he said in response to opposition charge that the Governor did not allow National Congress, PDP and Congress to form an alternate government.

Governor’s rule was imposed in June last year after the leaders of all political parties in the state stated that they were not in a position to form the government, he said.

In his report to the Centre, the Governor clearly stated that there was no initiative by political parties to form an alternate government, the Home Minister said.

“Allegations are being heaped on us but I want to make it clear that our intentions cannot be doubted,” he said.

The BJP and the government is not responsible for the sense of alienation which has been there since independence as no one worked to address that, he said.

“We do not want any sense of alienation in people of the state. We want to minimise it and neutralise any sense of alienation.”

He also said this was not the first time that Governor’s rule had been imposed in the state. The state has been under President’s rule for six years in a row at one point of time.

The Governor’s rule was imposed as no one came forward to form government. “When after six months the Governor’s rule was ending, the Governor said he spoke to political parties once again and nobody had come forward to stake claim for forming a government and so recommendation was made for President’s rule,” he said.

“While Muslims not just in Jammu and Kashmir but all over the country whose number were more than those in Pakistan had decided to stay with India and not migrate at the time of partition, politics of appeasement has created a crisis,” he said.

Earlier, Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad attacked the BJP for “destablising” the government in the state. He alleged that the BJP tried to split Congress, NC and PDP in the state to form its own government. (With PTI inputs)

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