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No Delegation Can Gauge Kashmir’s Woes Without Meeting Locals

The All-Party delegation going to Srinagar is not likely to get a warm welcome, with the separatists on protest.

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India
2 min read
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The 28-member all-party delegation, headed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, arriving in Srinagar on Sunday should not expect a red carpet welcome in the Kashmir Valley, which has been bleeding for almost two months now.

On the contrary, the delegation should be prepared for some unpleasant experiences if its members step out of protocol and protection to meet the common man.

Some of the most seasoned and experienced members of parliament are part of the delegation coming here to find out ways and means to save the Valley from further bloodletting and destruction.

Besides Rajnath Singh, the ministers in the delegation are Arun Jaitley (Finance), Ram Vilas Paswan (Food and Public Distribution) and Jitendra Singh (Minister of State in the PMO).

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The other members include Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Ambika Soni (all Congress), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), D Raja (CPI), Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Tariq Anwar (NCP) and Saugata Roy (Trinamool Congres).

The delegation members were given a presentation by senior home ministry officials in New Delhi on Saturday to give them a feel of the overall situation in the valley, which has been on the boil since the 8 July killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant commander Burhan Wani.

The separatists have asked Kashmiris, including civil society members, trade and travel organisations and other sections of the society, not to meet the delegation.

Hardline senior separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is spearheading the protest shutdown, has said the delegation was coming on “an officially conducted tour of the blood-littered valley”.

Trade organisations, including the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA), have said they won’t meet the delegation unless the members meet the separatists first.

Mainstream Kashmiri politicians, in a delegation led by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, had met national party leaders in New Delhi last month.

Observers say expecting that solutions would be found by meetings of the delegation members with leaders of state’s mainstream parties would be naive.

The problem lies on the other side of the political divide in Jammu and Kashmir although representatives from every region, including those from Jammu, Ladakh and the Valley, have stakes in restoring the peace.

While the exact numbers of those inciting the youth to violence or those taking part in stone-pelting and demonstrations voluntarily in the valley may be debated, the fact remains that an overwhelming number of angry youth have been out on the streets protesting for the last 57 days.

The unending violence has left 73 people dead. But the fact that more than 11,000 have been injured proves the situation is highly alarming.

Unless at least some members of the all-party delegation choose to move out of their secured lodgings during their visit and meet the man on the street, they would not get to know anything about the situation other than what they learn through official briefings.

If the delegation members choose to stay put in secured accommodations during their two-day valley visit, they would only have seen autumn setting in over the gloom-ridden valley.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at sheikh.abdul@ians.in. Published in arrangement with IANS.)

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