SRINAGAR: New Delhi’s special representative Dineshwar Sharma is meeting people and listening to them in Jammu and Kashmir during his second visit. As the interlocutor’s second visit to J&K is focused on refugees and displaced people, he met various categories of refugees, including those from West Pakistan, who have been struggling since 1947 to get basic human rights. He also met terror-affected families at the Talwara migrant camp.
As many as 19,960 families of West Pakistan refugees, a majority of whom are Dalits and OBCs, are living in Jammu. “We informed Dineshwar Sharma about our unending plight and demanded citizenship rights,” chairman, West Pakistani Refugees Action Committee, Labha Ram Gandhi.
A delegation of the All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference emphasised the need for strengthening the Panchayati Raj Institutions. A delegation of research scholars and students of the University of Jammu, led by Deepak Sharma, sought Sharma’s attention towards the discrimination against the Jammu and Ladakh regions, especially in matters of allocation of funds and government jobs. The delegation also demanded abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution and amnesty to those against whom cases were registered during the 2008 Amarnath land row on the pattern of the amnesty announced for stone throwers in Kashmir.
Earlier, Dineshwar Sharma visited the Talwara migrant camp and met two delegations of terror-affected families camping there since the late 1990s. Balwan Singh — leader of the Talwara Migrants’ Union — said that Sharma listened to them patiently and promised to solve their problems.
Another delegation led by Lal Maan sought the return and rehabilitation of their community members. Nearly 900-odd families comprising 2,500 people are at present putting up in a pitiful condition at the colony. The colony has no basic facilities, including safe drinking water and electricity. The interlocutor also visited the residence of former minister and president of the J&K Democratic Party Nationalist Ghulam Hassan Mir in Jammu this evening.
On his second visit to the Valley, interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma managed to cut some ice as he met some youths who were involved in stone-pelting incidents and suffered pellet injuries, but could not meet separatist leaders or organisations considered close to them. He had met people and delegations endorsed by the state government or mainstream politicians during his last visit.
During the second visit, the former IB chief met more than 60 delegations in Srinagar, south Kashmir’s Pulwama and Anantnag districts. He travelled to volatile Pulwama on Sunday where he met pellet victims and those involved in stone-pelting. Contrary to his previous visit when he could only hear the version of mainstream politicians or groups close to them, Sharma this time came to know about the situation on ground zero.
In Pulwama, some youths who came to meet Sharma told him that they could only talk freely once all officials leave the room. He also met a few delegations of college students and tried to know their problems.
“In our last meeting with Dineshwar Shama, we conveyed to him that he should try to establish contact with people facing problems, especially angry youth. We even told him that there is little difference between his thinking and the thinking of mainstream leadership or groups which are close to them, but the important factor is to establish contact with aggrieved youth,” a senior PDP leader said.
Another leader close to CM Mehbooba Mufti said that Sharma is doing his work silently. “He is doing it away from the media gaze slowly and silently. It’s a process responded to quickly by both state and centre governments. I think it is going to work as they are preparing ground for slow interventions,” he said. Sharma told some delegations that he is open to meeting the separatist leadership, especially Hurriyat Conference. He will visit the Valley again in the next two weeks.
Dineshwar Sharma clearly hinted that the release of political prisoners, next to release of first-time stone pelters, was not on the cards as a part of slew of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) being taken by the Centre to give an impetus to his Mission Kashmir and restore normalcy in the Valley.
Unambiguous hint was dropped by the special representative of the Government of India for the dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir during his very brief interaction with the media persons as he reached here on a four day visit to the state.
This was his second visit to the state after he was entrusted the onerous responsibility as interlocutor. His major engagement on the first day in Jammu was a visit to Jagti, the largest township of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits and deliberations with various delegations of migrants, mainly township inmates, besides the representatives of Minority Cells of National Conference, PDP, BJP and Congress, to understand their problems.