SRI NAGAR: Asserting that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday slammed separatists who had refused to talk to members of the all-party delegation.
“By refusing to talk to members who had gone to meet them in their personal capacities, they showed they don’t believe in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat (humanity) or democracy,” Rajnath said addressing a press conference here after the conclusion of the all-party delegation’s Srinagar visit. The 26-member delegation, which arrived here on Sunday on a two-day visit, interacted with 30 groups comprising 300 people, including Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and opposition leader Omar Abdullah, during its stay in Srinagar to find ways to restore normalcy in Kashmir.
“We met around 300 people from political parties, civil society members, university teachers and VCs, fruit growers, students and intellectuals,” Rajnath said.
After completing their interaction in Kashmir, the members left for Jammu where they held talks with Jammu-based political parties, traders, PoK refugees, West Pakistan Refugees Action Committee and Rashtriya Gujjar Manch.
However, Panun Kashmir, a Kashmiri Pandit group, boycotted the meeting saying 12 representatives of Pandit groups were given just eight minutes to speak. They hit out at the MPs for “begging before separatists like Syed Ali Shah Geelani who do not want a system of democracy and secularism but Shariat rule”.
On dialogue, Rajnath said “not only our doors, but windows are also open for talks” for anyone who wanted peace and normalcy but made it clear that talks would only be held within the ambit of the Constitution.
Asked about possible back channel talks with the separatists, he said, “I don’t want to go into the debate of Track 1, Track 2 or Track 3.”
The separatist leaders had on Sunday refused to meet the delegation members, such as CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who had gone to meet them separately. While Geelani even closed the doors of his house at Hyderpora, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Shabir Ahmad Shah, who have all been arrested, also refused to talk.
Rajnath said that when he visited the State last time (July 24-25), he had said an expert committee has been formed to suggest an alternative to the use of pellet guns . “The committee was tasked to submit its report in two months... but it has given its suggestion before the deadline. It has suggested use of PAVA shells... using PAVA shells won’t cause deaths. At least 1,000 shells have arrived in Kashmir,” he said.
Asked whether talks would be held with Pakistan, Rajnath said, “Don’t take the issue out of country. Let us first talk with the people in our own country.” He added that the delegation members would meet in New Delhi and decide the future course of action.
Reacting to Rajnath’s press conference, a spokesperson of the Geelani-led Hurriyat Conference said, “They never officially invited us and at the same time, blame us for rejecting it.”