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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 16:22 GMT
Kashmir leader firm on peace plans
Volunteers clean the steps of the Raghunath Temple in Jammu
The clean-up has begun after the temple attack
The new chief minister in Indian-administered Kashmir, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, has vowed to push ahead with his "roadmap" for peace despite a string of recent attacks.


We have drawn a roadmap, we will not be deflected

Chief Minister Mohammad Sayeed
Mr Sayeed defended his decisions not to implement a tough anti-terrorism law and to disband the state's counter-insurgency police unit.

Such measures, along with the release of certain militants from jail, have led some in India's ruling BJP to accuse Mr Sayeed of being "soft" on militants.

He was speaking in the state's winter assembly in Jammu, close to a Hindu temple which was attacked on Sunday leaving 14 people, amongst them three gunmen, dead.

On Tuesday, at least six people died in more violence.

Meanwhile, leading Kashmiri separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has told the BBC he could accept a solution to the Kashmir dispute which fell short of reunification of the Indian- and Pakistani-administered parts of the territory.

Defiant

Mufti Mohammad Sayeed
Mr Sayeed: Wants to win hearts and minds
Mr Sayeed was making his maiden speech to the state assembly.

He repeated his pledge to be firm on militancy, while improving the situation in Kashmir for ordinary citizens.

He said: "We are committed to dealing with foreign mercenaries firmly while transparency will be ensured in combating militancy so that the civilians are not harmed.

"We have sufficient laws to deal with militants."

Mr Sayeed also threw down the gauntlet to the Indian Government, saying there should be dialogue about Kashmir between the central authorities, elected representatives and other shades of opinion.

Dialogue

While the People's Democratic Party of Mr Sayeed does not contest the position of Kashmir within India, it believes that unelected separatists should be included in talks over Kashmir's future.

Before state elections in the autumn, the Indian Government offered to hold talks with the elected representatives of the state but it has steadfastly refused to include separatists, who boycotted the elections, in any discussions.

In a BBC HARDtalk interview, Mr Farooq - a senior leader in Kashmir's main separatist alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference - called on Delhi to talk to him and his colleagues.

He also signalled that there was some flexibility in their demands for autonomy.

He said there was a possibility that the alliance could settle for less than full reunification with Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

"I mean, yes, there is a possibility - if India and Pakistan reach an agreement and we are given access to people in Azad [Pakistan-administered] Kashmir, the borders are opened."

"It depends on what will be the ultimate form," Mr Farooq said.

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27 Nov 02 | South Asia
25 Nov 02 | Europe
26 Nov 02 | South Asia
25 Nov 02 | South Asia
23 Nov 02 | South Asia
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