Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, who invited flak for meeting Hurriyat leaders in Kashmir, on Sunday clarified his move, saying that he not only met the latter but also many other communities to discuss the ongoing unrest in the Valley.
“Media is publicising only this that I met separatist. Besides Hurriyat, I also met many other people. I met the governor, who thanked me for my initiative, and also sent a message to a Hurriyat leader through me appealing him to help pacify the situation in the Valley. Everyone knows that Hurriyat is an influential conference in the Valley,” Aiyar told media.
Asserting that he also met Mehbooba Mufti during his visit, Aiyar said the Chief Minister hailed his move of initiating dialogues and reaching out to every community.
“I also met the Chief Minister. She also hailed my move and lauded this step. When governor and chief minister welcomed me in the Valley then who are those on television channels that are criticizing my visit,” he added. The Congress leader further said that he received a ‘warm welcome’ in the Valley by all the community, adding that he had shown that it was possible to initiate dialogue with every community.
“Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power, the relation with Hurriyat has worsened which resultantly led to violence and tension. Every prime minister except Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Hurriyat leaders. They are ready to pacify the situation through dialogues. But Modi ji says that he doesn’t want to meet them,” he said.
He further said that his party might not be happy with his move but he took the step as a responsible citizen of India. “I am an Indian and being an Indian I have some responsibility. My party has clarified that they haven’t asked me to visit Kashmir. Even my party is miffed with my move. But I am happy with my decision. I will not present any report on my visit,” he said.
“I met every community there. I met people from Shia and Sunni community and also Kashmiri Pandits. Everyone pitched for dialogue not violence,” he added.
In an effort to resume dialogue with the stakeholders in Kashmir, five-member delegation led by Aiyar on Thursday called on moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and discussed ways to calm down the protestors. The delegation reached at the Nigeen residence of Mirwaiz to discuss the prevailing situation in the Valley and the necessary steps to be initiated for bringing peace in Kashmir, which has been marred by violent protests since July 2016.
Considering the situation very critical where students and youth have joined the protests, Aiyar insisted that the central government should hold dialogue with all the stakeholders in Kashmir as it would bring enduring solutions by bringing peace in the Valley as well as reduce tensions between India and Pakistan.
The delegation participated in a seminar organised by an NGO, Peace and Progress, where they proposed that government of India should talk to Kashmiri people including gunmen, protesters, stone pelters and should take the support from academics, clerics to calm down the unrest.