PM’s talks offer only for militants: Azad

Srinagar, June 9: Two days after Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, said that his government was open for talks with Kashmiri separatists if they abjure violence, Union Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad Wednesday said that Dr Singh’s offer was meant for militants only and not Hurriyat leaders.      
 “We have not stopped them (Hurriyat leaders) from participating in dialogue process. Fact is they declined to talk. They were invited to Round Table Conferences but they refused,” Azad told reporters after reviewing the progress of work of super specialty hospital here.
 Azad clarified that the PM’s condition to shun violence before talks was only for militants. “If Hurriyat talks about human rights violations, they should come forward and discuss it. They should approach us directly instead of issuing statements in media,” he said. “They may have some things against us we may have some things against them. These things can be discussed on table.”
 Quoting Mizoram’s example, Azad said, “Nearly 25-years ago when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister and I was the Minister of State for Home, we had kept the same condition for insurgents to talk.  Hundreds of insurgents surrendered, and today Mizoram is one of the most peaceful states in India. For peace to prevail gun has to go.”
 Asking separatists to join the dialogue process, he said, “Mere slogans, hartals and stone pelting won’t yield anything. Disputes can be settled only on table.”
 Azad had accompanied the Prime Minister on Monday to Kashmir. But he extended his visit to review the progress of health projects in Kashmir.