Adopting a tough stance, separatists on Sunday rebuffed attempts by five opposition MPs to talk to them even as an all-party parliamentary delegation explored ways to end the 56-day-old unrest by holding discussions with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and some other mainstream leaders.
During the first day of its visit, the delegation met about 200 members in about 30 delegations from various sections of society and listened to their point of view to reach at a common solution to the current scenario in Jammu and Kashmir, a statement from the Home Ministry said.
While the delegation, led by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, met mainstream sections, five members of the group broke away to meet the separatists. Four MPs -- -CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D Raja, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and RJD's Jay Prakash Narayan -- went to meet hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani at his residence where he is under house arrest for the last 60 days while AIMIM leader Assadudin Owaisi went to meet moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq at Chashma Shahi sub-jail where he is lodged.
At Geelani's residence, the gate was not even opened for the MPs while people shouted slogans outside. Geelani saw them from the window but refused to meet the parliamentarians. "It is our effort to show that we are ready to talk to anyone whether they agree to meet or not," Yadav said. The group also went to meet JKLF chief Yaseen Malik who is under detention at BSF camp in Humhama. He told the MPs that he will talk when he visits New Delhi.
Owaisi went separately to meet Miwaiz who met him briefly but only exchanged pleasantaries. After Owaisi's failed attempt, the group comprising Yechury, Yadav, Raja and Narayan went to meet the Mirwaiz and were with him for about 15 minutes. The group tried to meet former Hurriyat Chairman Abdul Ghani Bhat who also refused to talk to them.
Bhat welcomed the leaders but made it clear it has been decided that no talks will be held with the delegation members. Owaisi said he also met another detained leader Shabir Shah for some time and offered 'namaz' along with him there. But no separatist leader held talks with them.
"This is a futile exercise. Nothing concrete will happen until or unless India talks to Pakistan on Kashmir. We will not be able to arrive at any solution if India only talks to Kashmiris or Pakistan talks to Kashmiris. We should try and solve this issue which can otherwise result in hostilities between the two neighbouring nations," said Ghani Bhat.
After his meeting with Mirwaiz, Yechury said, "We are urging both sides to first restore normalcy and ensure that sufferings of people during last two months ends. Start unconditional political dialogue."
He said "When government gives slogans, some tangible follow up steps should also be taken." Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's talk about "Vikas (development) and Vishwas (trust)", the CPI(M) leader said "no tangible steps have been taken to develop trust among the Kashmiri people."
He said the government keeps on repeating Vajpayee's statement of 'Jamhooriyat, Kashmiriyat and Insaniyat' but "forgot the steps taken by the former Prime Minister along with the slogan like unilateral ceasefire during Ramzan and talks with Hizbul Mujahideen.(The then) Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani himself held a number of meetings with Hizbul leaders."
The 26-member parliamentary delegation, which arrived Srinagar on Sunday morning, began its engagements with a meeting with the Chief Minister Mehbooba who pitched for unconditional dialogue with all stakeholders.
Normal life in the Valley remained paralysed for the 58th day as restrictions continued in the rest of the Valley which has been hit by violence triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8. As many as 71 persons, including two police personnel, have been killed and several thousand others injured in the clashes between protesters and security forces in the Valley since Wani was killed in an encounter in south Kashmir on July 8.
(All images sourced from PTI)