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Yashwant Sinha Assures Better J&K Conditions After Meeting Geelani

Geelani, who is under house arrest, reportedly had welcomed Yashwant Sinha at his residence. 

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Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Wednesday said that conditions in Jammu & Kashmir will soon become better, reported The Indian Express.

Today I can assure you that conditions in J&K will soon become better. We have to look forward, not backward.
Yashwant Sinha

Sinha on Tuesday visited separatist Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani at his residence in a bid to reduce the ongoing tensions in the Valley by resuming talks.

While talking to the media, Sinha denied visiting Geelani as part of any delegation and said that he was there for “humanity”, reported News18.

We are few people of goodwill who have come here on the basis of humanity. The aim is to share the pain and sufferings of the people. If we can do that, we will consider ourselves fortunate.
Yashwant Sinha
Geelani, who is under house arrest, reportedly had welcomed Yashwant Sinha at his residence. 
File photo of Syed Ali Shah Geelani (centre) at a protest in Srinagar. (Photo: Reuters)

In response to a question about timing of the visit, the former finance minister said, "That is an eternal question why you did not do it before. We are doing it at a time which is quite appropriate."

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Asked if they had been invited by the separatists, Sinha said, "We do not have an invitation (from Geelani). We had requested (for a meeting) and we are going to see him."

Sinha was accompanied by former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah, who has served in Jammu and Kashmir, ex-Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, journalist Bharat Bhushan, and activist Sushobha Barve.

The group also met other separatist leaders, including moderate Hurriyat head Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is under house arrest and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yaseen Malik, who has been moved to a Srinagar hospital from jail because of his deteriorating health conditions.

Sinha and his team were also expected to meet civil society and trade groups, including the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) and the Kashmir Centre for Social and Developmental Studies (KCSDS). They were expected to call on Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Governor NN Vohra.

Geelani, who is under house arrest, reportedly had welcomed Yashwant Sinha at his residence. 
Kashmir has been on the boil after the killing of Burhan Wani. (Photo: PTI)

Geelani had refused to speak with a delegation sent by New Delhi last month and had also turned down Mehbooba’s offer for talks. But the 87-year-old separatist leader, who is under house arrest, welcomed BJP leader Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday, according to reports.

This is probably the first ray of hope after the Valley shut down three months ago following Burhan’s encounter. Is this New Delhi’s new track of diplomacy? Is Hurriyat willing to soften its stand? These are some of the questions that arise from Sinha’s visit.

However, sources from the Centre have made it clear that this visit was not a part of the government's strategy to ensure peace in the Valley and should be seen as an independent attempt.

“It is not a BJP delegation. BJP has nothing to do with this.”
BJP National Secretary Shrikant Sharma

Some media outlets called it a BJP delegation, which is absolutely wrong, Sharma said, adding Sinha too maintained that he took up the enterprise in his personal capacity.

Geelani, who is under house arrest, reportedly had welcomed Yashwant Sinha at his residence. 
Security forces keep strict vigil in Srinagar as curfew continues in Kashmir Valley. (Photo: IANS)
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Separatist leaders, on the other hand, welcomed the move. Shahid Islam said it is a "goodwill gesture", reported News18.

Yashwant Sinha's visit comes after almost 108 days of complete shutdown and violent protests in the Valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

(With inputs from News18)

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