Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday that members of the all-party delegation, who visited the separatist leaders, had gone in their “individual capacity” and that Jammu and Kashmir was, is, and will remain an integral part of India.
“As per information received, yesterday some members of this All Party Delegation went to meet some Hurriyat leaders. I want to clarify that some of the members of our delegation who had gone to meet the Hurriyat had gone in their individual capacity. We had neither told them yes or no (to go to meet Hurriyat),” Singh said at a press conference before the delegation left for Jammu.
Singh was accompanied by Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh and Union Home Secretary. “There are no two opinions that Jammu and Kashmir was, is and will remain an integral part of India,” he said.
While Singh tried to distance the delegation from those who met the Hurriyat leaders, he termed the refusal of the imprisoned separatist leaders to talk to Janata Dal leader Sharad Yadav, CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI National Secretary D Raja, RJD leader J P Yadav and AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi as against Kashmiriyat, Jamhooriyat and Insaniyat.
“Whatever happened (there), you know that. So I don’t want to go into those details,” he said. “But I would definitely tell that (as per) the information provided by those members of delegation after returning from there, it can be, at least, said that it is not Kashmiriyat and it can’t be called insaniyat (humanity) as well. And if someone goes for talks and they didn’t talk, they don’t believe in Jamhooriyat (democracy) as well”.
“They want to show the visit of the Parliamentary delegation as a favour to us,” said the Hurriyat in response. “We have made it clear in advance that we would not be part of any drama of dialogue. The intention of the delegation was to act as firefighters to derail and fizzle out the current movement. It would be better if people like Rajnath Singh don’t give (us) lessons on humanity and democracy because there is no one in Kashmir who is not the living example of the ‘humanity and democracy’ of these cunning people”.
The Home Minister also refused to be drawn into the issue of the letter written by Mehbooba Mufti to separatist leaders requesting them to “take a lead and engage” with the delegation. Interestingly, Mehbooba had written the letter not as Chief Minister of the State but in her capacity as president of the Peoples Democratic Party on Saturday evening.
The letter was delivered to the separatist leaders by the police. This last-minute move was prompted by pressure exerted on the government by several Opposition leaders in the parliamentary delegation especially Yechury, Yadav and Owaisi, who had sought a formal invitation to the Hurriyat ahead of the visit to make it “meaningful”.
As the ruling BJP opposed a formal invite, it was decided that Mehbooba would write but only in her capacity as PDP president. While the PDP sought a result-oriented dialogue to resolve Kashmir and engagement with Pakistan, the official presentation of the PDP-BJP government by Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu focused entirely on the need for development.
“I have received information that she has written a letter,” Singh said answering a question on whether Mehbooba wrote the letter as PDP president because BJP didn’t support it. When asked if the Centre supported the letter, Singh avoided a direct response and said: “Just a letter was written.”
Singh, however, reiterated that the Centre is ready to talk to anyone who “believes in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat”.
“Barabar baat cheet ki baat kahi jati hai. Mein spasht karna chahta hoon phir se ki baatcheet ke liyae keval hamara darwaja hee nahin khula hai, hamaray roshandan bhi khulay hain. (We are constantly talking about talks. I want to make this clear that not only are our doors open for talks but also the roshandans (small window used as skylight or for ventilation) are open,” he said. “I have said it earlier, that as soon as I came (to Kashmir last time) I had tweeted and said that whosoever in Kashmir wants that peace and normalcy should be restored. We are ready to talk to everyone. I have said that in unambiguous words. When I came before that, I had said then we are ready to talk to all those who believe in Jamhooriyat, Insaniyat and Kashmiriyat.”
When asked whether the Centre would talk to Pakistan, Singh said: “Do not take it outside the country. I am talking to the people living in this country”.
On a question whether the Centre would look into National Conference’s autonomy demand and PDP’s self-rule proposal that fall within the ambit of the Constitution, Singh said various political parties have talked to the delegation. “Who has said what and who is saying what, I don’t want to discuss that,” he said. “We have taken everybody’s suggestions. And in future, if we need, we would take suggestions and support to improve the situation in Kashmir”.
Terming the talks with different delegation as “marvelous”, Singh said they met around 30 groups that included “approximately more than 300 people” from different political parties and civil society groups.
“Parliament is the biggest Panchayat and regarding Kashmir situation this biggest Panchayat of the country is very serious. That’s why this Panchayat decided that to review the situation of Kashmir, a representative group should go,” he said. “Everybody’s wish is that the situation in Kashmir should improve. While the delegation yesterday talked to the representative groups, we also talked to the governor; we talked to the chief minister and talked to the officials of the state”.
While the separatist leadership, trade bodies and civil society groups boycotted the delegation, the MPs had meetings with mainstream political parties, an unknown media association, Vice Chancellor of Central University, Kashmir, Prof Meraj-ud-din; Vijay Dhar, chairman of Delhi Public School, Srinagar; and fruit grower Mohammad Yousuf Dar. A resident of Baramulla, Dar had contested Assembly elections from Baramulla as a Peoples Conference candidate.
Singh announced that the Centre has found an alternative for pellet guns and has appointed a nodal officer to look into the complaints of Kashmiri students studying outside the state. Though Singh has announced PAVA shells as an alternative to pellet guns, the Centre has not banned the use of pellet guns in the Valley as demanded by all major mainstream parties including the ruling PDP and the opposition NC. (PAVA stands for pelargonic acid vanillylamide and is more potent than natural oleoresin capsicum gas which is extracted from processed capsicum. It causes severe irritation, watering of eyes and a burning sensation on the skin.)