In an admission that will dampen any hopes of peace in the troubled Kashmir valley soon, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the government was “groping for a solution.’’ Talking to a group of editors, Singh said the Naxal problem and Kashmir were the biggest challenges for the country. “We are not dealing with easy problems,’’ he said. He said the government must have done something right because until recently, militancy in the Valley had gone down.And now it was suddenly up. Singh said he would hold a meeting of the cabinet committee on security this week to discuss the issue. “There is no royal road to success. I can’t pull a rabbit out of the hat,’’ PM Manmohan Singh said. “The country and the people must be patient (on Kashmir).’’ In what might be seen as criticism of the security forces in the Valley, Singh said riot control measures have to be better. “No lethal weapons should be used and there should be a more humane approach,’’ he added. The PM said there was, of course, a political dimension to the problem—the question of greater autonomy, for instance—but he would not like to discuss that in public. He would hold talks with J&K CM Omar Abdullah.
On the Maoist menace, Singh repeated what he has said before—that there has to be a two-pronged approach. The valid social problems of the tribal areas controlled by Maoists need to be addressed, he said, but at the same time, law and order must also prevail in these areas for development to be carried out. “It requires a nuanced approach,’’ he said. He drew attention to the fact that the Naxals were suddenly active in Bihar. “There is a certain thing like learning by doing,’’ he said. “There are failures some times. successes some times. But the problem doesn’t have quickfixes.’’ The PM said these festering issues need to be addressed or else India’s growth could be hit. “There is a lot of entreprenueral energy in India. We’re in a position to deliver on the economic front, but only if caste, law and order, the Naxal problem don’t become impediments.’’
“In a few days you will have the judgment on Babri Masjid. The way the country handles it will have a profound impact on how we go forward,’’ he said.