SRINAGAR: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday described the Kulgam civilian deaths as unfortunate and asserted that talks and dialogue can never go together.
"The Kulgam incident in which some civilians were killed is very unfortunate," Rajnath said at a press conference, and announced `5 lakh in ex gratia to families of the victims.
Seven civilians were killed and over 40 others injured in the blast at encounter site in Laroo area of Kulgam on Sunday.
The home minister said there was a big shift in security situation in the Kashmir Valley in last four months. "Stone pelting incidents have come down, and so has militant recruitment."
On Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's offer for talks, the Home Minister said, “We are ready for talks but they should see that terrorism is being promoted and sponsored by Pakistan. They should give an assurance that Islamabad won't sponsor terrorism in India."
"Terror and dialogue cannot go together," he asserted.
Rajnath said India made many attempts to reach out to Pakistan. "Prime Minister Narendra Modi went out of way and visited Pakistan to hold talks with then PM. However, there was no positive response from Pakistan."
When asked if there was any initiative to reach out to separatists, he said, “I want to reiterate that whosoever is ready to talk, we will talk to them. We will not shy away from talks. The government will talk to anyone who is willing to enter into dialogue.”
Terming the urban and rural polls as historic, Rajnath said the biggest of the problems and issues can be faced and resolved through democratic means. “Many problems of J&K can be addressed through democracy. I appeal to people of the state to participate in this festival of democracy.”
Earlier, he met a delegation of political leaders, including former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, and appealed them to participate in the polls.