Centre’s special envoy for a dialogue on Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma on Thursday visited Tral, a sub-district in South Kashmir that is considered as the breeding ground for militancy, and held talks with a broad cross-section of people. Amid tight security in the wake of threats by militant groups, Sharma arrived here in a helicopter to hold meetings with various delegations that the state government had lined up at the town hall.
The building was turned into an impregnable fortress with security personnel keeping a strict vigil, a PTI report said. However, the security personnel did not hamper the daily lives of the residents, who were seen moving about freely, with children playing cricket in the ground adjacent to the venue.
Tral, which is located 47 km from Srinagar, shot into prominence in 2014 after the rise of Hizbul Muajhideen poster boy Burhan Wani who was subsequently killed in an encounter in July 2016. The area recorded 1.53 per cent polling during the last parliamentary elections. Tral is part of Awantipura police district and the area has some presence of ISIS terrorists as well. In the past six terror strikes in the state, the militants mainly belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group hatched their conspiracies in this area.
The Centre’s interlocutor was apprised about the security situation in Tral ahead of his visit but that did not deter him from meeting people in the area considered to be the hotbed of terrorism. After his appointment in October last year, Sharma has made several trips to the Kashmir Valley including to areas such as Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam in South Kashmir which are all considered as breeding grounds of militancy.
“I have to understand the pain and for that I have to meet people in their homes. I have to understand their living condition so that I can improve upon that,” Sharma told PTI. Sharma said the number of delegates that he met in Tral started the conversation at a very high decibel level but at the end, they were satisfied that he had heard them patiently and assured redressal of their grievances.
While some delegations wanted a play ground for children, the others complained of alleged harassment by the Army and security personnel. “Some wanted that a political solution should be arrived soon so that the Kashmir issue comes to an end. I know I do not have a magic wand in my hand to set everything right but I can always lend a patient ear and try whatever to bring some relief to their daily lives,” Sharma said.
He admitted that fear was looming large in Tral, but expressed hope that all-round development was necessary for the area to negate the negative influence of militant and separatist groups. “You see, Tral is famous for its natural springs. The area can turn around into exotic tourist locations and necessary steps should be taken for that. The fruits of economy should reach the common people in the area. This should be our endeavour and this should be our goal,” he said.