A five-member delegation, led by former union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha, which arrived here on Tuesday, met the Chairman of Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani amid ongoing uprising in Kashmir which entered its 109th straight day. The meeting is seen as a fresh effort by New Delhi to pave way for talks with the resistance camp in Kashmir.
Soon after its arrival here, the delegation straightaway drove to the residence of Geelani at Hyderpora here for a meeting with the veteran leader who continues to be under house arrest.
“We had a good discussion (with Geelani) and it took place in a cordial atmosphere. We had come with an aim to hold talks and we succeeded in it,” Sinha, the former External Affairs Minister of India, told reporters soon after the meeting that lasted for more than an hour. “We are a few people who have come with goodwill to share the pain of Kashmiri people,” Sinha said.
The other members of the group, which is on three-day visit to Kashmir, are former Chief Information Commissioner of India Wajahat Habibullah, Ex-Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, Executive Director of Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation, Shushoba Bharve, and veteran journalist Bharat Bhushan.
In a statement issued to media, the Geelani-led Hurriyat said the delegation was told that “the onus of peace in the region particularly in Jammu and Kashmir lies with those holding power, military might and other resources.”
The statement said the meeting took place in a cordial atmosphere and Geelani reminded the delegation about the “historical perspective of Kashmir issue, pending for its final resolution since 1947.” He also told it that people have given enormous sacrifices for settlement of the long-standing dispute.
According to the statement, Geelani also sought release of people and leaders and withdrawal of cases against youth “so that after consultation, a common and collective point of view can be put forward.”
During the ongoing uprising in Kashmir triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mijahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8 this year, at least 94 civilians have been killed and over 13,000 injured, and over 1000 of them blinded in action by security forces. Besides, police have also arrested over 9000 people, mostly youth, and slapped Public Safety Act on over 400 persons in a bid to quell the uprising. Most of the arrested persons have been however released on bail.
The meeting comes more than a month after Geelani and other resistance leaders refused to meet CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury and other non-BJP MPs who were part of an all-party delegation that visited Kashmir on September 4.
“We came here for humanity… I hope the state of unrest will be resolved soon,” IANS quoted Sinha as saying.
As the delegation was leaving Geelani’s residence a group of youth shouted anti-government and pro-freedom slogans.
CALLS ON PROF BHAT
Later in the day, the Sinha-led delegation met Muslim Conference Chairman Prof Abdul Gani Bhat. During the meeting, a statement said, Prof Bhat highlighted the role of Indian intellectual class for early resolution of Kashmir dispute. “The need of the hour is to resolve Kashmir issue by devising a mechanism for a fruitful and result-oriented dialogue process among the three stakeholders to the Kashmir dispute—India, Pakistan and people of Kashmir,” said the statement. “It was further said that until Kashmir issue is not resolved as per wishes and aspirations of people of Kashmir peace can’t prevail in South Asia.”
“Due to the lingering Kashmir issue, there is always a chance of nuclear war which can not only bring destruction in South Asia, but is also a threat to the world peace,” said the statement.
MEETS SHABIR SHAH IN JAIL
In the evening, the delegation visited police station Rajbagh here to meet the Chairman of Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Shah, who is under arrest there.
“He (Shah) told the delegation that talks can’t be held when forces continue to kill civilians in Kashmir,” said a party spokesman. “At the same time Shah Sahab made it clear to the delegation that India can’t sideline Pakistan for resolution of Kashmir which is a core issue and has to be resolved as per aspirations of people.”
The spokesman said Shah cautioned the group that the day wasn’t far when “Kashmiri youth will be forced to pick up guns if Kashmir issue isn’t resolved”.
Referring to Jat agitation in Rajasthan and Patel agitation in Gujarat, the spokesman said Shah told the delegation that no pellet guns were used against the protestors in the two states despite damage to huge property.
“The civilians are being killed and property damaged and students left blind due to use of pellet guns in Kashmir,” Shah told the group.
The delegation would also meet chief minister Mehbooba Mufti during its stay in Kashmir.