The government is likely to constitute a core team of members of Parliament that will stay in regular touch and engage in continous dialogue with all the stakeholders in the Kashmir Valley, in an attempt to rope in the separatists.
Even during a marathon three-hour long meeting on Wednesday of the all-party delegation which visited the Valley last week, the emphasis remained on engaging with various elements in the region and initiating some confidence building measures in a bid to restore normalcy in the State.
Even though some members of the delegation pitched for resuming the India-Pakistan dialogue, the meeting, chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh, was unanimous that there would be no compromise on national security and sovereignty. In a joint resolution, the members once again appealed to people in the Valley to give up violence and try to resolve all issues through a dialogue process. On its part, the government once again reiterated that it is willing to talk to anyone, without extending any special invite to anyone.
While reading out the resolution, minister of state in the PMO Jitendra Singh said, “The members of the delegation are of the opinion that there is no place for violence in a civilised society. There can be no compromise on issue of national sovereignty.” When asked if separatists were included in the definition of stakeholders, Mr Singh only repeated that the government was ready for dialogue with all stakeholders.
However, Congress leader in the Lok Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad was more direct, saying the separatists were include in the purview of “all stake holders”. While chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, speaking in Srinagar, called the resolution “a welcome step”, her predecessor and National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah gave vent to his disappointment and anger on Twitter.
He tweeted, “I’m struggling to find a single achievement that the all party delegation can lay claim to after visiting J&K. Nothing comes to mind as yet!”
And, “If all they had to do was issue this tame & sterile appeal they could very easily have done so without wasting the time & money on a visit.”
In Delhi, the Left parties, who were part of the delegation and had reached out to the separatists without any success, once again demanded that as part of reaching out to the people the Centre should withdraw the contentious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some civilian areas and stop immediate use of pellet guns even in the “rarest of rare” cases.
Sources said the government is in no hurry to remove AFSPA as of now, not until the present spate of violence subsides though it was open to having detailed deliberations on giving greater autonomy to the state.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury clarified that the handling of the ongoing crisis by the Mehbooba Mufti government was not discussed at the meeting. “This is not the time to blame. This is the time to work unitedly for bringing peace in Kashmir,” Mr Yechury said.
Sources confirmed that while no Opposition party criticised the state government for failing to handle the crisis, the criticism came in the form of a large number of memorandums from Opposition parties and groups in the Valley which had been collated by the home ministry for the meeting. It was, however, clarified that this was neither the view of the Centre nor the home ministry, but merely representations given to the all-party delegation during their visit to the Valley.
Asaduddin Owaisi of AIMM said he personally felt that the PDP-BJP government had failed to handle the situation, letting it continue for too long, leading to “the present mess”. Mr Owaisi demanded that a non-BJP and non-Congress team of other political parties visit the State to assess the situation and the extent of damage caused due to the unprecedented violence.