As Home Minister Rajnath Singh briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the visit of an all-party delegation to Srinagar and Jammu, there were indications Tuesday that the government was getting ready to send a tough message to Kashmiri separatists.
Official sources said the government may consider scaling down security cover provided to separatist leaders, stop facilitating their travel outside the country or grant benefits such as accommodation in state guest houses or payment of their medical expenses. Measures could also include scrutiny of their bank accounts and completion of any pending inquiry.
“Any final decision on this issue will be taken by the Home Minister after consulting other senior leaders. It is only natural if the government decides to curtail undue benefits being enjoyed by separatist leaders,” a government source said.
In Srinagar, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti hit out at the separatist leadership for frittering away another opportunity to resolve the Kashmir issue.
She also criticised the separatist leaders for pushing the children of the poor into protests against the security forces. “God is witness that their own children study in Malaysia, Dubai, Bangalore and Rajasthan. If a single child of these people has been injured in the protests, I am ready to quit politics,” she said at a function in the city.
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In New Delhi, Rajnath Singh, who led the all-party delegation, took to Twitter: “Briefed the Prime Minister on all-party delegation’s visit to J&K and also apprised him of the situation in the state.”
Briefed the Prime Minister on All Party Delegation’s visit to J&K and also apprised him of the situation in the state.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) September 6, 2016
A high-level meeting on the situation in Kashmir and the government’s future course of action was chaired by Singh at his residence in the evening and was attended, among others, by BJP president Amit Shah, party general secretary Ram Madhav, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and MoS in PMO Jitendra Singh.
Ram Madhav later told reporters: “After the all-party delegation’s visit, we met today and discussed the future course of action in Jammu and Kashmir. The government will make an announcement after tomorrow’s meeting.”
Asked if the Centre was going to harden its stand against the separatists, Madhav said, “All proposals will be placed before the all-party delegation for discussion tomorrow.”
The Home Minister will brief the members of the all-party delegation at Parliament House at 11 am Wednesday, and suggestions that can be worked on by the government will be incorporated from the memorandums submitted to the delegation during its visit to the state.
In Srinagar, Mehbooba Mufti said when V P Singh was Prime Minister and Mufti Mohammad Sayeed the Home Minister, her father told Singh that he had an opportunity to rewrite the subcontinent’s history if he could resolve the Kashmir issue.
“V P Singh agreed to engage with various stakeholders in J&K to resolve the issue through dialogue. Government of India was ready to discuss every possible solution. The separatist leadership in Kashmir was approached through emissaries to engage with New Delhi for the settlement of the issue, but they refused to come to the negotiating table and lost the first opportunity to resolve the issue,” she said.
Mehbooba said another opportunity was lost in 2003 when Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee led the peace and reconciliation process on both the external and internal fronts. “Again, the Hurriyat leadership was invited for talks to resolve the issue. But because of discord within the separatist leadership at that time, another opportunity to resolve the issue was lost.”
She said there was an opportunity now with “a very strong Prime Minister” in the country. “The cream of the country, members of Parliament, came to you and many among them said they want to talk without condition. I, as president (of PDP), wrote a letter. I said let us talk wherever you want, we will facilitate because children are getting killed, injured.” Referring to the separatists, she said many people have been roaming the streets at night, instigating children to stage protests.