Concerned over the situation in the Valley, the Centre has initiated behind-the-scene talks at the level of the Union Home Minister to find a way out.
The Indian Express has learnt that Rajnath Singh has held two rounds of talks with “eminent citizens”, mostly non-Kashmiri Muslims, to discuss a plan of action and seek their help in initiating a dialogue with Kashmiris.
Sources said that while the first meeting with 10 people was held in Singh’s office on August 18, the second was held Sunday with 14 people where senior functionaries of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) were also present.
MHA officials said that following the first meeting, reports of numerous working groups on J&K, which were never fully implemented, were being examined afresh and some action would be taken on the key recommendations once the Valley situation improved.
Sources said Singh “indicated” to those present at the meetings that the government was working on a “three-stage plan” to find a peaceful solution. He was said to have assured them that the use of pellet guns, which have caused serious injuries to over 900 people, mostly the young, would be “minimised”.
“The Home Minister indicated that the government is finalising a three-stage plan to end the protests in a peaceful manner. To begin with, civil society groups will be encouraged to venture into Kashmir and interact with the protesting youths. He also indicated that an all-party delegation will be sent to the state soon. The role of clergy in spreading the message of peace and tranquility was also discussed,” sources said.
Those who attending the meeting Sunday included former Orissa High Court judge Ishrat Masroor Quddusi, former Rajya Sabha member Shahid Siddiqui, security analyst Qamar Agha, Milli Gazette editor Zafarul Islam Khan, Supreme Court advocate Ashok Bhan, former J&K interlocutor M M Ansari and former AAP leader Mufti Shameem Kazmi.
Sources said there was “near unanimity” among the non-official invitees that the situation had been allowed to drift in the Kashmir province.
“Some of us were of the opinion that strongly-worded statements, including by many senior ministers, in which Kashmiris were accused of acting at the behest of Pakistan, were only adding fuel to fire and should be avoided. There was also a feeling that some news channels were creating an impression that India was at war with Kashmiris. And this needed to be checked. Many other suggestions were made,” sources said, adding that “the chain of broken promises, which has led to deep distrust, needs to be connected”.