An all-party delegation, led by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, is set to visit Jammu and Kashmir on Monday to assess the ground situation and find out ways of hitting upon that “elusive” point to restart the process of dialogue with different sections of people.
The 39-member delegation, comprising senior parliamentary party leaders such as the BJP's Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, Basudeb Acharia of the CPI(M), Gurudas Dasgupta of the CPI and JD(U) president Sharad Yadav will meet different groups, legislators and members of political parties. Though a format for discussions and meetings has not yet been finalised, the State government has sent out invitations to a cross section of the people, including two factions of the Hurriyat Conference and other separatist leaders, sources in the government said here.
The delegation will travel to Jammu from Srinagar on Tuesday and hold meetings there before returning to New Delhi on Wednesday. The Centre is also planning to hold a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) after taking into account the inputs made available by the delegation.
The CCS, which met on Monday last, decided to enlarge the scope of discussion on the situation in the Kashmir Valley by holding an all-party meeting here on Wednesday, when the decision to send an all-party delegation was taken.
Authoritative sources in the government maintained that the CCS could be convened to take a view based on the deliberations that the delegation would have with people of the State, and also on withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from various parts of the State.
The armed forces feel that the Act is required for the soldiers who operate in disturbed areas.
However, the State government has been demanding that the Act be lifted at least from some parts of the Valley as a measure to restore normality. It argues that such a step would calm the passions inflamed by the death of civilians in operations by security forces.
There are two points of view at the Centre: one that endorses the argument for withdrawal of the Act; and the other that such a move will not result in any dramatic shift in the situation.
Those credited with propounding the second view insist that there is an attempt by some sections to focus on the Act and its removal rather than look at other issues behind the current phase of agitation, especially the protests by stone-throwing youths. While taking a decision, the Centre has to keep in mind the sensitivities of the other two regions, Jammu and Ladakh, and maintain a balance, the sources said.
Last week, Defence Minister A.K. Antony rejected the charge that there was a delay on part of the government in taking a decision on the situation in the State, as also the Act.