Nation special report
SRINAGAR: Indian Govern-ment’s special interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma is busy in meeting with all stake holders to Kashmir affair to accomplish the task assigned by New Delhi. He arrived in Srinagar on Monday on a three-day visit and started meeting with the relevant circles from the following day. He met 39 delegations on the second day of his visit. Details of meeting on first day are being published as initial reports on page 23 of this edition.
Dineshwar Sharma, on Wednesday called on former chief minister Omar Abdullah at his residence in Srinagar to discuss the prevailing situation in the state. “We discussed the prevailing situation in the state, as also steps that can be taken to make his visits to the state more meaningful,” Abdullah was quoted as saying by news agency PTI after the meeting.
Sharma also met CPM leader M Y Tarigami, who represents south Kashmir’s Kulgam constituency in the assembly. Senior leader of the ruling PDP, Sartaj Madni, who is CM Mehbooba Mufti’s maternal uncle, will meet Sharma later this afternoon. He is also expected to meet former minister and Democratic Party Nationalist leader Ghulam Hassan Mir and People’s Democratic Front chief Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen.
On the first day of his five-day visit to the state, Sharma met about 40 people from 13 delegations at Hari Niwas in Srinagar amid tight security on Monday. On day 2, Sharma met 37 delegations, comprising 199 people including activists and youth leaders.
The former Intelligence Bureau director is spending three days in the Valley and will be travelling to Jammu on Thursday where he is slated to hold talks with Governor N N Vohra, CM Mufti and other delegates.
National Conference president and Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah, however, said at a rally in north Kashmir, “Autonomy to both sides of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir is the only viable solution to the decades-old problem.”
All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) led by its chairman Jagmohan Singh Raina raised the issues of Sikh community in the state. Two women from Sawa Kupwara emphasized redressal of the local issues the women are facing in Kashmir.
A delegation of All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference led by Shafiq Ahmad Mir also met Sharma and raised the issues of panchayat members. Human Welfare Association working for the welfare of released militants were led by its chairman Saifullah Farooq. A PDP youth delegation led by Waheed Rehman Parra also met Dineshwar Sharma.
The other groups, which met Sharma included Voice of Youth led by Rather Mehraj, Tehreek Insaaf, Welfare Civil Society Kupwara led by its chairman Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti, Cross LoC Trade Association, Global Youth Foundation led by Touseef Raina, Be the Change, Voice of Youth, Shivsena Hindustan, Redwinter led by Aqib, Youth Group Srinagar, J&K Doordarshan non migrant Pandits, Child Production Committee Global Youth Foundation, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, Rashtriya Samajwadi, All J&K Auto Drivers Association, Shopkeepers Association, Ex-Serviceman Association, Help and Peace Foundation, a delegation led by Mehrah Khurshid who contested Srinagar parliamentary by-polls, a delegation led by G M Wani, retired judge, Lok Jan Shakti led by Sanjay Saraf and two individuals Tahir and Irfan.
Prominent journalists Sanjeev Pargal and Fayaz Bukhari penned his engagements for daily Excelsior. All separatist leaders and trade associations have decided not to meet Dineshwar Sharma in protest.
Dineshwar Sharma said in Srinagar that he would try to meet separatist leaders as part of Government’s efforts to resolve issues faced in the State through a dialogue even as he would tomorrow commence second-leg of his first visit by reaching Jammu, winter capital of the State, where he would hold significant meetings with Governor NN Vohra, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Chief Secretary BB Vyas among others.
He will be in Jammu for three days from November 9 to 11. He gave almost similar time to Kashmir but would be skipping Ladakh in the first tour. He would visit Ladakh region including both Leh and Kargil districts during his next visit to the State.
Simultaneously, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has deputed another high-level delegation of the MHA to Jammu and Kashmir on November 10 and 11, which accompanied by top officials from the State would visit border areas of all five districts of Jammu region to assess problems faced by the people living along International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) and suggest measures for permanent solution.
“I will try to meet separatist leaders as part of the Government’s efforts to resolve the issues in Jammu and Kashmir through sustained dialogue,” Dineshwar Sharma told reporters while entering “Hari Nivas” for talks with delegations in Srinagar.
To a question if he would go an extra mile to meet the Hurriyat Conference leaders, Sharma said: “I’ll try my best”. On his engagements during past three days, Dineshwar said his meetings have gone well. “I met a lot of people. I Wish that peace returns to Kashmir very soon and a political solution also comes as quickly as possible,” he added. Dineshwar reached Srinagar on Thursday and drive down to the Raj Bhavan where he met Governor NN Vohra. He also met Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti at her residence. This was Dineshwar’s second meeting with both Vohra and Mehbooba. He had met both of them separately in New Delhi after his appointment as Special Representative on Jammu and Kashmir by the Union Home Minister.
He was supposed to have meetings on Thursday with BJP State president Sat Sharma, Chief Secretary BB Vyas and Director General of Police, Dr Shesh Pal Vaid. He would meet the delegations on Friday and return to New Delhi on Saturday.
Sources said large number of political parties and organizations have approached the divisional administration for meeting with Dineshwar Sharma and all of them might not get time during the first visit. Meanwhile, MHA Special Secretary (Internal Security) Rina Mitra and Joint Secretary Gyanesh Kumar joined by Principal Secretary Home RK Goyal and Divisional Commissioner, Jammu Dr Mandeep K Bhandari would visit all five border districts including Jammu, Samba, Kathua, Rajouri and Poonch on November 10 and 11.
They would meet the people living along International Border in Jammu, Samba and Kathua district and Rajouri and Poonch districts along Line of Control to listen to their problems and suggested measures to the Union Home Ministers for finding out permanent solution to their problems in view of shelling and firing by Pakistan.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah who met Sharma this afternoon told reporters that he has suggested him to expand the sphere of dialogue. “Dineshwar Sharma came to meet and he had sent a message saying he wants to meet. He came and told me about the task he has been tasked with. He sought my views on how he would carry on his task in right way, how he would make his mission more successful. Whatever I told him is between us. I hope Dineshwar Sharma would implement the suggestions that I put forward before him over expanding the talks’ sphere because if you would continue waiting in guest house for people then this process won’t work. I hope to see more activities in his efforts next time when he would arrive again because all of us want that this issue is resolved through dialogue and people here spend their lives in peace and calm environment”, he said.
When asked about the statement of NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah that appointment of Interlocutor by the Centre is futile exercise, Omar said: “Farooq didn’t say wrong. The Centre itself dampened our expectations and Prime Minister himself made a statement saying ‘talking about internal autonomy is akin to talking about Azadi’. So for people like us who talk about internal autonomy, it is obvious that it was like sprinkling water on our hopes.”
“Now, how much Centre’s cooperation is with Dineshwar Sharma would come to know by his activities. As of now I would only say that whatever Farooq said wasn’t wrong”, said NC leader.
Omar said that he met Sharma in personal capacity and his party has not been invited so far and once party meets, it will present its view point. “See, I spoke to DIneshwar Sharma alone. My party so far has not received any formal invitation for talks. If any delegation from National Conference talks to Dineshwar Sharma next time then that time we will talk about internal autonomy and NC’s political agenda. As of now, I didn’t say anything like that”, he said. When asked about the cold response to interlocutor’s visit, Omar said that his status was undermined by the PMO that led to cold response but hoped that Centre would rectify it. “I hope that the misunderstandings that were created by Centre about Dineshwar Sharma’s mission and that his status was undermined particularly from PMO office, Home Ministry would be rectified and the roadblocks that were created by Centre in the mission of Dineshwar Sharma would be cleared. If that happens – I think this time less people met him – I hope next time more people would be ready to meet Dineshwar Sharma. But the responsibility lies on Centre. Till now, the Centre instead of making task of Dineshwar Sharma easy, has made it difficult”, he said.
The former Chief Minister said that Centre has to think about making Sharma’s mission successful.
“As of now, no reservations have been cleared. We are looking towards Centre that they make such a forward movement which clear these reservations. They should understand this that the way people should have met Dineshwar Sharma didn’t happen. Now how to make mission of Dineshwar Sharma more successful, the Centre has to think about that”, he said.
Meeting with Hurriyat
Later, Omar took a dig at leaders of the Hurriyat Conference by referring to Pakistan’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as their Prime Minister, and urging them to spell out their stand on Abbasi’s statement ruling out an independent Kashmir.
In a tweet, Omar said, “Here’s a question for the Hurriyat leaders in light of your PM’s categorical statement – what was the last 30 years of turmoil all about? Will you boycott the Pak High Commission now?”.
Speaking at a recent conference on the ‘Future of Pakistan 2017’ at the London School of Economics, Abbasi said, “The idea (of independent Kashmir) is often floated around but has no reality.” “There is no support for the demand for an independent Kashmir,” he claimed.
People’s Democratic Party vice president Mohmmad Sartaj Madni today hoped that the exercise undertaken by the Centre will culminate into meaningful and tangible outcome, despite difficulties.
Heading his party’s delegation comprising senior party functionaries and legislators, Madni told the Interlocutor that PDP has always desired to hold talks with all stakeholders so that Jammu and Kashmir is led to resolution of all issues in accordance with the wishes of the people. He referred to initiatives taken by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003 and how then Chief Minister Mufti Mohmmad Syed successfully changed the discourse in the state exhorting the interlocutor to take a holistic view of the situation to end the impasse.
The PDP delegation told Sharma that once the process takes off, Pakistan ‘s involvement will further facilitate the process to make it result oriented.
The delegation included PDP general secretaries Nizamuddin Bhat and Qazi Afzal senior leader and legislator Mohmmad Khurshid Aalam, Mir Fayaz, MP, Raja Manzoor , Abdul Rahim Rather and Mohmmad Abbas Wani.
CPIM general secretary, MY Tarigami said he told Sharma that use of force is no solution and stressed for result oriented dialogue. “I, Hakeem Yasin and Ghulam Hassan Mir together met Sharma here and we told him that as far as we are considered, we believe violence is no solution and no option; application of force is not option and dialogue is the option in whole world and in our State. There is need for sustained, result oriented dialogue for resolution of this vexed issue”, he said.
Tarigami said he told Sharma that people have lost faith on Interlocutors and that is the reason for the cold response. “(We told him) that now the Government of India has appointed you an interlocutor but even reports of previous interlocutors were not presented in Parliament. What happened to them, no one knows. And that is why people don’t trust interlocutors and they treat it as joke”, he said.
Predesh Congress Committee president, G A Mir, told reporters after meeting Sharma that they asked the interlocutor about his role. “Congress party believes that the dialogue is the only way out. Congress always believes that the political problems should be resolved politically. He came late but came here. Congress party believes that dialogue is the only way out. When he invited us, we went, met him and presented our view point before him. We told him to make it clear and people want to know about his mandate. Has he come to contain the present situation in Kashmir? Has he come as there are elections in other States and GOI has sent him with an eye on those elections? Or has he been given the mandate to talk to the stakeholders for resolving the issues politically for long term peace”, he said.
Later in the afternoon, MLA Er Rasheed met Sharma at Hari Niwas and told him that without involving Pakistan and militants nothing can be achieved. “I made it clear to Sharma that without including Pakistan and militant leadership in the talks nothing can be achieved,” Er Rashid added.
A delegation of Janta Dal United J&K delegation led by its State President GM Shaheen met Sharma and discussed some major issues and problems faced by common people of Kashmir valley.
During the last three days, Sharma met around 65 delegations which comprised NGOs, Trade Associations, Widows Unions, and other lesser known organizations and parties. However, well known Trade and Business Bodies stayed away from meeting him.