Cen­tre afraid to even iden­tify stake­hold­ers in Kash­mir: Cong

Hindustan Times (Amritsar) - - Region - Press Trust of In­dia let­ter­schd@hin­dus­tan­times.com

SRINAGAR: A Congress panel headed by for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh on Satur­day asked the Cen­tre and Jammu and Kash­mir gov­ern­ment to keep the di­a­logue route with sep­a­ratists open.

The party del­e­ga­tion is on a two-day visit to Kash­mir to at­tend a se­ries of meet­ings on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in the Val­ley.

The Congress’ ‘Pol­icy and Plan­ning’ group was formed in April in the wake of wide­spread vi­o­lence in the state dur­ing the Srinagar Lok Sabha by­polls. The other mem­bers of the group include Leader of Op­po­si­tion in Ra­jya Sabha, Ghu­lam Nabi Azad, for­mer Union home min­is­ter P Chi­dambaram and party gen­eral sec­re­tary Am­bika Soni.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter their ar­rival, the group held an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing of Jammu and Kash­mir Pradesh Congress Com­mit­tee at Hari Ni­was here, a party spokesper­son said.

He said the group was sched­uled to meet var­i­ous del­e­ga­tions from Kash­mir, in­clud­ing op­po­si­tion par­ties.

“Apart from the po­lit­i­cal par­ties, the group will in­ter­act with sev­eral other del­e­ga­tions like civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions, Shia as­so­ci­a­tions, del­e­ga­tion of 2014 flood vic­tims, saf­fron grow­ers, house boat as­so­ci­a­tions, trade and tourism del­e­ga­tions as well as a del­e­ga­tion of jour­nal­ists,” the spokesper­son added.

How­ever, meet­ing sep­a­ratist lead­ers is not part of the group’s agenda, he said.


Speak­ing to re­porters on side­lines of the meet­ing, Azad said the cen­tral as well as the state gov­ern­ment should keep the di­a­logue route with sep­a­ratists open.

“The Cen­tre and the state gov­ern­ment have to de­cide which stake­hold­ers to talk to. Ev­ery­one knows who the stake­hold­ers are, but they are afraid to take the names. And when they are afraid to even iden­tify them as stake­hold­ers, how will there be a res­o­lu­tion?” Azad said.

“They (cen­tral and state govern­ments) should talk to them (sep­a­ratists) and try to re­solve the is­sue,” he added.

He said Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi won the 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions by “rais­ing the emo­tions” of peo­ple but has re­mained silent since tak­ing over the reins of the coun­try.

“Modi’s elec­tion win was 90% be­cause of Kash­mir. In our rule, one soldier was be­headed by Pak­istani troops (along the Line of Con­trol), but such in­stances have hap­pened a num­ber of times now in their (BJP) rule, and still the Prime Min­is­ter is silent,” he said.

The for­mer chief min­is­ter of Jammu and Kash­mir said the Congress gov­ern­ment had made south Kash­mir mil­i­tancy-free, but the re­gion had been on boil since the PDP-BJP coali­tion came to power in the state.

“We had mades­outh Kash­mir mil­i­tancy-free dur­ing my ten­ure (as chief min­is­ter) in 2007. But, where is south Kash­mir to­day? It is boil­ing. No one is com­ing to Kash­mir, no tourist. The num­ber of cease­fire vi­o­la­tions in these three years is more than the to­tal in 10 years of UPA,” he claimed.

Asked about the party’s stand on Ar­ti­cle 35A of the con­sti­tu­tion, the se­nior Congress leader said the party knew its stand, but the group was here to lis­ten to peo­ple. Ar­ti­cle 35A ren­ders special sta­tus to J&K.

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh flanked by leader of op­po­si­tion in Ra­jya Sabha Ghu­lam Nabi Azad and Congress gen­eral sec­re­tary Am­bika Soni in Srinagar on Satur­day. WASEEM ANDRABI /HT

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