Antony calls for political settlement of Kashmir issue

Fomrer Defence Minister A. K. Antony releasing the book on Kashmir by journalists in Thiruvananthapuram on August 23Thiruvananthapuram: Former Defence Minister A. K. Antony said on Tuesday that the government should initiate dialog for a political settlement of the Kashmir issue.

Releasing a travelogue on Kashmir by journalists from Kerala here, Mr. Antony said that though talks had failed earlier, they should be attempted again. “It is hard to deal with the issue. However, things would go out of control if a settlement is delayed. So, no time should be wasted.”

The Congress leader also urged that the Centre should lead an all-party delegation to Kashmir.  “We have to intervene urgently.”

He said that Kashmiris felt that they did not get justice in India. “We have not been able to convince them otherwise. They should feel that those in Delhi are their own compatriots.”

He noted that force alone could not solve the Kashmir issue though the terrorists are to be fought against.  Instead of treating Kashmir as a law and order problem, a new approach has to be adopted. Though the UPA government had taken some initiatives, they could not be carried forward.

He said that Kashmir was not a land of fundamentalists. When Sheik Abdulla was the Chief Minster, it had carried out land reforms which were one of the most revolutionary in the country. However, a volcano was now burning in the hearts of Kashmiris, and there are small scale eruptions.

Referring to the friction between the media and lawyers in Kerala, Mr. Antony said that a situation that limits freedom of the press should not occur in Kerala. It should be remembered that those trying to feed one-sided information was not going to succeed.

Tourism Minister A. C. Moideen received the first copy of the travelogue from Mr. Antony.  Former Minister for Information and Public Relations K. C. Joseph spoke.

The journalists, numbering 25, had visited Kashmir when Mr. Antony was the Defence Minister with support from Kerala Information and Public Relations Department. Most of them have contributed to the book published by Kesari Journalists Trust and the Thiruvanthapuram unit of Kerala Union of Working Journalists.