All-party delegation in Kashmir interacts with 'open mind'

Posted By: Samyuktha
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Srinagar, Sep 20 (ANI): Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Monday said the all party delegation has come to Jammu and Kashmir with an 'open mind' and hopes to 'carve out a path for taking the region out of its present cycle of violence'.

"The team has come with an open mind and the main purpose was to interact with people, listen to them patiently," said Chidambaram.

"We are here to listen to your views, we will give you a patient hearing, what you think we need to do, in order to bring to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the hope and the belief that their honour and dignity and their future are secure as part of India," he added.

Chidambaram said the delegation has a tight schedule and asked the parties appearing before them to make their presentation effectively.

The People's Democratic Party (PDP) met the all-party delegation and suggested out of box solutions for resolving the Kashmir issue.

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti did not meet the delegation, but sent senior leader Nizamuddin Bhatt. who told reporters later 'although we were given just 15 minutes to put our point' , we have told the delegation that "all suggestions from the mainstream or separatist quarters should be considered."

He said that party renewed its demand for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act AFSPA) and unconditional dialogue with all sections of people.

"The Centre will have to take steps for wriggling the people of the Valley from the siege and stop the killing so that they feel that they are living in a truly democratic system," he added.

The 39-member delegation, which arrived in Srinagar on a crucial two-day visit to assess the ground situation, was received by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

Led by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, the all-party delegation expects to find ways to restart the dialogue process with different sections of people in Jammu and Kashmir, and specifically in the Kashmir Valley.

The delegation comprises senior parliamentary party leaders, including 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.

They will meet different groups, legislators and members of political parties.

The Omar Abdullah-led coalition government in the state has sent out invitations to a cross section of leaders and people to come forward for the interaction.

Moderate Hurriyat Conference chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) Yasin Malik and Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani have all rejected invitations to attend the all-party meeting in person in Srinagar.

Malik said they would instead submit a joint memorandum to the visiting delegation.

"We choose not to meet all party delegation and will send a joint memorandum to all. We have reiterated our four points for a peace process to begin. We propose talks between parliamentary committees of India and Pakistan," Farooq said.

The delegation will travel to Jammu from Srinagar on Tuesday and hold meetings there before returning to New Delhi on Wednesday.

The Central Government plans to convene a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the third in a little over a week, to take 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.

Sources said 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 to legally operate in the disturbed areas.

The state government, however, has been demanding that the Act be lifted at least from some parts of the Kashmir Valley as a measure to restore normalcy and calm the passions inflamed by the death of civilians in operations by security forces.

In taking a decision, the Central Government would have to keep the sensitivities of Jammu and Ladakh in mind, sources said. (ANI)

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