Political solution is the key to Kashmir problem, says Indian premier
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reached out to the youth of Kashmir Tuesday, saying he understood their anger and a political solution was needed, following protests which have seen 45 people killed, DPA reported.
Singh appealed to the youth to remain calm and said his government was ready to reach a solution through dialogue.
Singh's remarks during an all-party meeting in Delhi comes after two months of violent protests in India-administered Kashmir.
Over 45 people including several youth and a 9-year-old child were killed during the protests - mostly shot by security forces trying to disperse stone-pelting mobs.
"I can feel the pain and understand the anger and frustration that is bringing young people out on to the streets of Kashmir," Singh said. "Many of them have seen nothing but violence and conflict in their lives and have been scarred by suffering."
"Let us make a new beginning," the prime minister said appealing to the youth to return to their schools and colleges.
Singh said he wanted to see a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem but this would need patience, an prolonged atmosphere of peace and could be achieved only through dialogue and reconciliation.
"I cannot say that a complex problem that has defied resolution for 63 years can be solved easily or quickly," he said.
The vexed Kashmir problem dates back to independence from British rule and the partition of undivided India in 1947, when the princely states, of which Kashmir was one, were given the option of ceding to India or Pakistan.
The Hindu ruler of Muslim-majority Kashmir opted for India, Pakistan protested and the United Nations suggested a plebiscite through which Kashmiri people could choose. The referendum was never held.
Since then, India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir which is divided into two parts, one controlled by India and the other by Pakistan.
India-administered Kashmir saw a violent secessionist movement over the past two decades in which over 45,000 people including civilians, security forces and militants, have died.
There is a strong anti-India sentiment in the valley which often results in clashes between protestors and Indian security forces who are present in large numbers to contain militancy.