Tread softly

By Y P Chhibbar

It kindles hope in one's heart to see some signs that point to a change of attitude towards some of the problems that have become festering sores in the body politic of the country. One is seeing reports that a number of leaders of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference in Jammu and Kashmir, who were under detention, have been released. Some people, who were detained under TADA and against whom there were no specific charges, are also being released. The ban on Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front, imposed under the Unlawful (Prevention) Activities Act, 1967 has been allowed to lapse. It appears that it is a prelude to talks for solving the Kashmir problem. If it is so, it is a very wise and welcome initiative. Contacts have been going on with various groups in the North east. Groups in Nagaland and Manipur have been active for a long time and the Government seemed, until now, to have left it to the Army commanders to 'solve' the problem. For the past some time initiatives have been taken to hold talks with some of the groups. In this connection it is known that some sort of success in suspending 'hostilities' has been achieved. The process is going on. One of the main players in the extremist groups is the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN). One section of NSCN is led by Shri Muivah. Shri Muivah is in Jail in Thailand. He is reported to have appealed to the Thai Government for pardon so that he may contribute to the peaceful solution of Naga problem "which is most essential" and which can be brought about through talks. Shri Sulak Sivaraksa, a well known humanist of Thailand, is reported to have offered to stand surety if the Thai government agrees ro release him on bail. The PUCL, on its part, has urged Shri AB Vajpayee to request the Thai government to release Shri Muivah. In Andhra Pradesh, the CPI-ML (PWG) has expressed a willingness to course to the table fore talks. The Chief Minister is consulting intellectuals, academics, and others, most notably the Committee of Concerned Citizens, headed by Shri SR Sankaran , former IAS officer. The PUCL has appealed to the Chief Minister to see that all sorts of 'encounters' are stopped to create an atmosphere appropriate for talks. Our first sentence in this piece is very cautious, for caution is what is needed for solving these sensitive problems. The whole approach in all the three areas, till now, has been constructive, indicating political maturity, and foresightedness. The problems needs political solutions, not military tactics . The power mind set has to be shifted from that of war to that of attempts at peace. The PUCL has always stood for a peaceful solution, not in a spirit of slogan mongering but through a conviction that there is no substitute ot the democratic method of talks.

May 16, 2000

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