NEW DELHI: It is a 2010 redux. Six years after an all-party delegation visited Kashmir to give a ‘healing touch’ following a bout of violence, a similar 30-member delegation - many who were part of the earlier team - would land in the Valley on Sunday to find means to end the impasse.
Ahead of the team’s visit, the Union government gave an indication that it was ready to reach out to all stakeholders. In her capacity, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, invited the Hurriyat leadership for talks with the all-party delegation.
As the first confidence-building measure, the Centre cleared the use of chilli-filled grenades as an alternative to pellet guns. Going a step ahead, though unrelated, Rajnath met with Kashmiri students studying in Jaipur and promised to clear the hurdles in availing scholarships provided by the Central government.
The current phase of violence has claimed more than 70 lives in Kashmir. The 57-day long curfew, since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, saw several instances of stone pelting by protestors and police firing. According to the itinerary, the delegation would first meet the Chief Minister after landing in Srinagar on Sunday. The meeting is expected to last for 45 minutes. This will be followed by an eight-hour slot for discussions with representatives of all political parties in the State legislature. Final interaction for the day will be with the State Governor, NN Vohra.
On Monday, the delegation will spend another two-and-half hours meeting other delegations from the State, following which they would head to Jammu for a similar exercise.
Mehbooba Mufti’s invite to Hurriyat is based on her capacity as the president of her party- PDP. “I write to you in my capacity as the President of the J&K Peoples Democratic Party and request you to take the lead and engage with the All Party Delegation of Parliamentarians visiting the state tomorrow. This will be the start of a credible and meaningful political dialogue and resolution process to end the stalemate,” she wrote in the letter addressed to the separatist leaders. The opposition parties had insisted on holding talks with all stakeholders in the State. The CPI(M) general secretary, Sitaram Yechury had even asked for talks with the Hurriyat and tangible announcements like a ban on pellet guns and the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
As uncertainty over participation of the Hurriyat leaders continues, the government could work out alternatives, just like it did in 2010. Back then, some members of the delegation, led by P Chidambaram, met the separatist leaders at their residence. Considering Mehbooba’s invite to the Hurriyat leaders, a similar exercise could be carried out, though there is no official word on it yet.