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Centre to look into detention cases

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: February 25, 2006 21:58 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday asked Home Minister Shivraj Patil to form a high-level group of officials to examine all current cases of detention in Jammu and Kashmir and release those who are not facing serious charges by the end of March.

Talking at the end of a round table conference on Kashmir, Dr Singh also said that the second round table conference will be held in Srinagar in May.

Forty-four such prisoners were released recently after their cases were re-examined by Union home ministry committee on the recommendations of the state government.

In an indirect reference to the killings of innocent people in an alleged encounter, Dr Singh said that while dealing with militancy with a firm hand, his government will not tolerate sufferings of innocent people.

"Whenever there is any violation of human rights, there must be a transparent mechanism to fix responsibility and to punish those found guilty," he said.

In his reply to issues of greater autonomy and self-rule raised by National Conference chief Omar Abdullah and People's Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti, Dr Singh said that there is a need to evolve a common understanding on autonomy and self-rule for the state.

"I am confident that working together with all groups, both within and outside the mainstream, we can arrive at arrangements within the vast flexibilities provided by the constitution, arrangements which provide real empowerment and comprehensive security to all the people of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, National Security Advisor M K Narayanan said that the doors for future talks are open for those who did not participate on Saturday.

"We can meet them collectively or individually. And we sincerely hope that they will participate later," he said.

He said almost all participants appreciated the initiative taken by the prime minister and claimed that the event was successful.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi