Cong open to constructive talks in J&K; protests on

New Delhi, Aug 27 | Updated: Aug 29 2008, 05:06am hrs
With no sight of an early end to the impasse in Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress on Wednesday said the government was willing to talk to those who believe in more autonomy but not with those who owe their allegiance to foreign countries even as security forces opened fire on a group of protestors who defied curfew and pelted stones on them in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Five police personnel were among six person injured in the violence which started when a group of protestors raised pro-freedom slogans after offering afternoon prayers at Banday Mohalla in Handwara area, official sources said.

The UPA has said the government was open to dialogue with those who want alternative models of autonomy but there was no question of dealing with the terrorists or those who owe allegiance to a foreign inimical country like Pakistan, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters here.

Singhvi claimed that considerable progress has been made in talks with the Jammu-based Sangharsh Samiti. We are happy that the BJP, trying to fish in troubled waters, has been kept at a safe distance by the samiti, he said, adding, such initiatives will restore peace and calm in the sensitive state.

Singhvi said the UPA government wants all the disagreeing groups on the negotiating table. The government is open for all constructive elements to engage in constructive exchanges... Equally, there was no question of dealing with terrorists, he said.

The spokesman said those who want more autonomy are on a different footing than those who want secession.

Meanhile, the National Conference has demanded lifting of curfew and curb on use of force to save precious lives in Jammu and Kashmir. We appeal to the administration led by Governor NN Vohra to lift curfew forthwith and provide relief to the people who are facing acute shortage of essentials, senior National Conference leaders and former ministers Mian Altaf Ahmad, Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan, Mustafa Kamal and provincial president, Kashmir, Mehboob Beig said in a joint statement here.

They said continued curfew in the valley and parts of Jammu region have caused immense problems to the people. They also demanded complete lifting of economic blockade to rush essential commodities to the valley.

Holding the previous Congress-PDP coalition government responsible for the present mess, the NC leaders urged government not to use excessive force and advocated compensation to those killed in the agitation.

PTI