The 39-member all-party delegation on Tuesday reached Jammu and held discussions with political parties, NGOs and civil society. Some members visited the Kashmiri Pandit migrant camps, while a few met the detained separatist leader Shabir Shah.
However, the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party and the Samajwadi Party boycotted the delegation. The BJP withdrew its decision to boycott the delegation after its demands were met.
It was a replay of Srinagar as the delegates met the National Conference, the People's Democratic Party, the Congress, the BJP and other groups. They echoed the same views expressed by their counterparts in Srinagar on Monday. Senior Congress leader Mangat Ram Sharma, however, strongly opposed the demand of greater autonomy — the stand not espoused by the Congress here. “Whatever autonomy we have is enough,” he said.
The NC reiterated its stand that a political solution to the Kashmir issue could be reached only by extending autonomy, besides initiating concrete confidence-building measures, including withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from peaceful areas of the State. “We believe this is the only way to come out of the crisis,” said NC leader Ajay Sadhotra.
The BJP had earlier announced that it would boycott the delegation, as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Sangarsh Samiti and Panun Kashmir were not invited for talks. “They later conceded our demand and invited them so we met the delegation and told them that the AFSPA should not be withdrawn and total integration of the State was the only solution,” senior State BJP leader Ashok Khajuria told The Hindu.
However, the JKNPP and the SP boycotted the delegation saying it was not useful to meet them. A three-member team comprising Babu Lal Marandi, Joseph Toppo and Narhari Mahto met Mr. Shabir Shah, who is under detention but admitted to hospital in Jammu.
In the Muthi camp of Kashmiri Pandit migrants, moving scenes were seen as a team led by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury visited them. They narrated how they have been living in pathetic conditions in small rooms since their migration in 1990.
Mr. Yechury said it was the objective of the delegation to take everyone on board to find ways and means to restore normality and find a solution to the problem.
“They complained that the promise made by the Prime Minister for special fund allocation has not been fulfilled and they are living in very tough conditions,” Mr. Yechury said.
“I assured them that we will take up this issue with Prime Minister,” he said.