For the first time in the last 20 years, an official delegation reached out to hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani seeking his cooperation in restoring normality in the Valley and asking him to come forward for dialogue.
Separate delegations met Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chief Yasin Malik on Monday but all the three leaders denounced the government's move to enforce curfew in the Valley, “virtually putting the people in jail.”
Five members of the all-party delegation, led by CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, called on Mr. Geelani at his Hyderpora residence under full media glare. They discussed the ongoing situation with him for about 40 minutes. Accompanied by Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi, T.R. Baalu (DMK), Ratan Singh Ajnala (Akali Dal) and Nama Nageswara Rao (TDP), Mr. Yechury urged Mr. Geelani to help in restoring normality in the State.
Reiterating his long-time stand, Mr. Geelani said India should accept Kashmir as a dispute as “it has illegally occupied the State.” Though uncomfortable with the Hurriyat leader's “strong wording” to express his point of view, the delegates expressed their solidarity with the victims of violence. “We have raised these issues with force in Parliament,” Mr. Yechury said.
The CPI(M) leader tried to remind Mr. Geelani of the 1994 Parliament resolution, but it failed to break the ice with the Hurriyat leader, who said Kashmiris wouldn't surrender before the “blind might of the Indian State.” One of the members from the delegation said they had not come to make Kashmiris surrender.
He asked the delegation to prepare the Government of India, the people of India and the BJP for accepting the hard reality — “Kashmir is a dispute.”
Another delegation led by Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan called on Mr. Malik, asking him to come forward in restoring normality and finding a way out of the crisis in Kashmir. The delegation members extended condolences to Mr. Malik over the death of his cousin in police firing recently. They expressed concern over the loss of lives during the last three months.
Mr. Malik said Kashmiris had made a lot of sacrifices for the resolution of the Kashmir issue but “India has never shown sincerity in its resolution.” The JKLF leader said he himself gave up violence to pave way for a non-violent mode but this too was not recognised. “Our movement has since transformed into a nonviolent mode and this change should be respected,” he told the members. He cautioned that if the dispute was not addressed, the new generation might also be forced to turn violent. For avoiding this, he called for a sustained dialogue to find a solution.
A delegation headed by CPI(M) leader Gurudas Dasgupta met the Mirwaiz, who asked the delegates to impress upon the Centre to acknowledge the “sentiment of Azadi and not be in denial mode.” Earlier, in a joint memorandum to the delegation, submitted by him and Mr. Malik, he suggested that a Kashmir committee be set up to start a meaningful dialogue, for which “we are ready.”
“We are now wary that your visit today, however well-intentioned, represents only an effort at short-term crisis management and that there is no clear commitment or a path towards effective resolution of the Kashmir issue and addressing the aspirations and interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” the memorandum said
“Today, we ask not for unilateral political concessions but rather a joint commitment to a meaningful process that guarantees results. We believe this is possible only if serious efforts are made to create a conducive environment for dialogue by removal of the harsh and repressive measures that are in force here, to suppress our aspirations and our fundamental democratic rights,” it read.
The Mirwaiz said he and Mr. Malik were ready for entering into a dialogue based on commitments, which included: “To create a beginning and to sustain the process of dialogue we need to create a process in which all views and options — most of all Kashmiri aspirations, will be considered and explored before arriving at an acceptable solution.”
“Let the Government of India act on the suggestions given by the Kashmiris and facilitate to establish and empower an official body, a Kashmir committee, consisting of senior representatives of all major Indian political parties to develop and enter into a process of engagement with the representatives of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Let this process be transparent designed to deliver a negotiated solution to the Kashmir issue that is mutually worked towards by and acceptable to all parties concerned,” the Mirwaiz said.