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Kashmir package not region-specific: Omar
Jammu/New Delhi, Sept 27 (IANS):
Published on 27 Sep. 2010 10:48 PM IST
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The eight-point Kashmir package is not "Kashmir Valley centric", Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Monday asserted and sought to assuage the feelings of hurt in some quarters, especially in Jammu region and among Hindu Pandit groups.
"This package is for all the three regions," Abdullah told mediapersons in Jammu Monday on the sidelines of a function. "It is wrong to say that it is region specific," the chief minister said in reply to a comment that the central government's Sep 25 package was being seen as valley centric.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram announced an eight-point package for Jammu and Kashmir after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security. Seven of eight points are seen as Kashmir centric by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), refugees from Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Kashmiri Pandit organisations. The Kashmir Valley has been rocked by violence since June 11 that has seen at least 108 people, mostly youths and teenagers, killed in firing by security forces on stone-pelting street protesters.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram expressed happiness over schools reopening in the Kashmir Valley Monday and students attending classes after three-and-half months of closure, and said attempts by stone-throwers to attack school buses were "mischievous".
Abdullah condemned the criticism of the Jammu organisations and asked them to revisit the package which would reveal to them that it is not region specific.
The BJP's state unit president, Shamsher Singh Manhas pointed out at a press conference here Sunday that the package had "nothing for Jammu". He said the package was aimed at "pampering Kashmiri separatists".
Similar reservations were voiced by Rajiv Chuni, president of SOS, a premier organisation of refugees from Pakistan-administered Kashmir. "This is nothing but an exercise to keep Kashmiris happy, while ignoring Jammu and its urges and aspirations," Chuni said.
According to the package, a group of interlocutors will be appointed to hold dialogue on the Kashmir issue and youths arrested in the recent stone-pelting incidents will be freed soon.
The CCS decisions were made on the assessment of the 39-member all-party delegation which visited Jammu and Kashmir recently.
Suggestions on withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some areas would be taken first by the Unified Command in the state.
"(The) government is happy to learn that most schools and colleges have reopened in Jammu and Kashmir and most students have gone back to schools (and) colleges today. I appeal to all sections of people of Kashmir, especially parents, to cooperate with the state government and ensure that all schools and colleges function normally," Chidambaram said in a statement here.
According to the home ministry, there were a few incidents of violence as some stone-throwers attacked school buses. "There were a few minor incidents of stone-pelting on school buses at Habak, Bemina and Nowgam," the statement said.
"How can any right-thinking person pelt stones at school buses?" Chidambaram asked.
"I hope that such mischief will stop immediately. Anyone who has the interest of the children at heart cannot indulge in stone-pelting, nor should anyone support such mischievous attempts to interfere with the functioning of schools and colleges," he said.
In the face of the separatist Hurriyat Conference asking parents not to send their children to school, the Jammu and Kashmir government made elaborate security and transport arrangements in Srinagar even as curfew continued.
In the Kashmir Valley, school staff turned up in large numbers, though students' attendances were thin. Chidambaram said he was "confident that the few schools and colleges that remain closed today, presumably out of caution, will reopen tomorrow".

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