A DAY before an all-party delegation visits Kashmir, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who will lead the team, Saturday said its members will be free to meet all representatives in the state even as leaders of other parties, especially the Congress and the Left, made a forceful plea for a dialogue with “all stakeholders”, including separatists Hurriyat Conference.
The Home Ministry, meanwhile, has identified some of the key challenges the government faces in the Valley and briefed representatives of different political parties about them during a presentation on the “Current situation in Jammu and Kashmir” at a meeting in Parliament House complex on Saturday.
Singh, who chaired the meeting, said once the delegation members are back, they will meet again and the government will act “based on their suggestions”. Sources, however, said the Centre was non-committal on the suggestion for taking Hurriyat on board.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad called for an end to use of pellet guns, and stressed on replacing them with “less lethal” weapons in dealing with protesters. “The government should open a dialogue with all stakeholders, and the state government knows who the stakeholders are”. Without mentioning the Hurriyat, Azad said, “They (government) have to identify the stakeholders and invite (them for talks).”
Replying to a question, CPM general secretary leader Sitaram Yechury said, “No one can meet Hurriyat leaders without permission from the government”. He urged the government to send invitation letters to leaders of Hurriyat factions, like intimations sent to various parties to join talks.
In Srinagar later in the day, J&K Congress chief G A Mir asked the Centre to clear its stand on CM Mehbooba Mufti’s invite to separatist leaders for talks with the all-party delegation. Hours after Mehbooba, in her capacity as PDP president, wrote a letter urging separatist leaders to engage with the visiting team, Mir, pointing out that she heads a PDP-BJP coalition government, said, “If this (meeting with separatists) had to be done, why were two months wasted? We had been telling the government to engage all stakeholders since July.”
At the all-party meeting earlier in the day, the Home Ministry stated that “instigating the youth” to join violence through social media and rumour mongering, lack of an “identifiable leadership” in the state, and attacks on “government offices, political representatives and families of policemen” are among the key challenges the government faces .
According to the ministry, among the other challenges are “armed militants mixing with stone-pelting mobs”, militants “using cover of agitating mobs” sometimes attacking security forces and thereby “provoking them to retaliate”, continuing infiltration attempts from Pakistan.