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Dialogue the only way out in Kashmir: Deshpande

Shujaat Bukhari

The Gandhian says desire for peace obvious among Kashmiris "I found that people are yearning for peace and they are supporting the peace process. Because they can understand now what peace means for them."

SRINAGAR: Dialogue is the only to resolve the Kashmir issue, Gandhian and president of Akhil Bhartiya Rachnatmak Samaj (ABRS) Nirmala Despande said on Friday. She said the desire for peace was obvious among the people of Kashmir.

Concluding a five-day visit to Kashmir, Ms. Deshpande told a news conference here that people in India and Pakistan had realised that war was not the solution. "They have seen wars in the past which only brought miseries. Now there is consensus at various levels that all issues, including Kashmir, should be resolved through a sustained dialogue process." Violence, she said, had been rejected as a means to resolve any dispute. Following increased interaction among the people violence had reduced in Jammu and Kashmir. "But some incidents do take place and I am sure with the urge for peace gaining ground they shall have to stop this," she said.

Feeling good

Ms. Deshpande said: "I found that people are yearning for peace and they are supporting the peace process. Because they can understand now what peace means for them." She said the situation had improved and there was free movement. "Young people, especially, are feeling good about the changed atmosphere as they are coming out of a suffocating situation. Peace means that all the ticklish problems are to be solved and Kashmir is a problem that needs to be resolved. That is why I told the people here to take recourse to dialogue. There is no other way," she said.

Flanked by Lt. Gen. (retd.) Moti Dhar and ABRS State president S.P. Verma, Ms. Deshpande said her organisation had been working to remove the barriers between the people of India and Pakistan. "We are silently working to join hearts to make peace," she said, referring to her initiative of 2000 when she took a delegation of women to Pakistan and Pakistani women visited India. A delegation of devotees from PoK also visited Charar-e-Sharief last year, she said.

"We are continuing our efforts on that front as well," she said. She acknowledged that there were still roadblocks in the process but "in spite of these hiccups we need to go ahead and give people a way for a peaceful life."

Ms. Deshpande met a number of political leaders, including Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani and CPI(M) State secretary M.Y. Tarigami.

Terming the opening of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road "the biggest confidence-building measure," she said the bus service should become a weekly affair.

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