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Let us build a new J&K: PM

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
February 25, 2006 13:06 IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is presiding over the round table conference on Kashmir at 7 Race Course Road, Delhi, has called the participants to construct a new Jammu and Kashmir and expressed his gratitude to those who had come to attend the conference.

"I want you to know how much personally I value your presence here. I am particularly looking forward to hearing your ideas and suggestions. But let me share some initial thoughts with you. I hope these thoughts will also make clear the purpose behind organising the round table," he said in his opening remarks.

He recalled that when he visited Srinagar in November 2004, in his talks with students from the university he had asked them to help in building a naya (new) Jammu and Kashmir. "Today I seek your leadership to construct a new Jammu and Kashmir. A naya Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, which is symbolised by peace, prosperity and people's power," Dr Singh said.

He stressed that the government of India was willing to talk to anyone who eschews violence. "We have initiated a political dialogue with those outside the mainstream electoral system including from the All Party Hurriyat Conference," he pointed out.

Dr Singh said without compromising on one's ideals we can have a new chapter in Kashmir's history in a spirit of mutual tolerance, understanding and accomodation.

"I am of course actutely aware that some of us do not think alike. The people of Leh and Kargil may have different ideas about the future from those living in Srinagar. Those in Kathua may think different from residents of say Sopore. But that is the real strength of our democracy, which celebrates differences and does not smother them," he said

He promised good governance and comprehensive security to all the citizens of the state so that people of the state from Ladakh to Lakhanpur and from Kargil to Kathua in Kashmir feel secure in every sense of the word. He also talked of empowerment of the people of the state.

"I am sure we can realise the dreams of men, women and children of the state, ensure that all processes of governance are truly reflective of their concerns and create an environment in which all citizens can lead a life of dignity and self respect and free from fear of war, want and exploitation," Dr Singh said.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi