Differences surfaced on Tuesday within the 39-member all-party delegation to Kashmir over some members calling on separatist leaders.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sushma Swaraj said it was not a collective decision, but Chief Minister Omar Abdullah maintained that it was part of a plan worked out for the delegation, which reached Jammu on its second and last leg of its visit.
“That was their own decision, not that of the delegation. If some want to go, how can we stop them? They went but our decision was not to go. So we didn't go,” Ms. Swaraj told reporters at the Hazratbal shrine which she visited with delegates.
Some delegates met Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, leaders of the hard-line and moderate Hurriyat groups respectively, at their homes and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik at his office on Monday.
Ms. Swaraj said there was no division on the issue. “Some of the people in the delegation expressed the desire to meet them [separatists]. Anyone can go individually. No one can stop them,” she added. But she maintained that there was no mandate by the delegation.
However, Sitaram Yachury, who led the team that called on Mr. Geelani, said they met the separatist leader on behalf of the delegation. “Nobody objected to it. We are the ones who proposed. It was finally, officially, on behalf of the delegation,” he said.
MP from Hyderabad Assaduddin Owaisi said it was discussed and there was approval to their going. “After all we are part of the delegation. How can you separate us? We are not here for holidaying,” he told The Hindu.
Mr. Omar Abdullah also echoed their views, saying this was scheduled and “we had only worked towards it to make it possible. I am happy that it worked and the delegation got views of every shade of opinion in the Valley.”
“The delegation has come obviously to get a report about the ground situation here and we were accused of stage-managing... but we tried to ensure that the delegation meets as many people as possible,” he told reporters at Tangmarg where the 11-members had gone to speak to people.
Mr. Abdullah expressed satisfaction over the visit, saying they would get a balanced view. “The delegation's visit was not a mere show and they needed to know the ground situation in the Valley.” Kashmir is not only about mainstream political parties, but also about separatist groups. Our effort was to show the visiting delegation the real picture of what is happening here.”
Paswan meets Geelani
Meanwhile, before leaving for Jammu, Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan called on Mr. Geelani and sought his cooperation in restoring normality. Both discussed the situation on the same lines a delegation discussed on Monday.
Mr. Owaisi too met the Mirwaiz and discussed with him how to break the ice on Kashmir deadlock. He was not able to meet the top clergyman on Monday. “It was a good meeting,” he said adding that the process would continue.