NC team meets Fa­rooq & Omar, de­mands re­lease Pan­dit-Mus­lim feasts in Val­ley for Navara­tri

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Front Page - Saleem.Pan­dit @times­group.com

Srinagar: Na­tional Con­fer­ence on Sun­day de­manded that its party pres­i­dent Fa­rooq Ab­dul­lah and his son Omar, both un­der de­ten­tion for over two months since the

Cen­tre’s Au­gust 5 an­nounce­ment on nul­li­fi­ca­tion of Ar­ti­cles 370 and 35A, be re­leased ahead of the Block De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil polls in Jammu & Kash­mir on Oc­to­ber 24.

The de­mand af­ter the ad­min­is­tra­tion al­lowed a 15mem­ber party del­e­ga­tion to meet the two for­mer NC CMs. As

the Val­ley’s first Navara­tri since the an­nul­ment of Ar­ti­cle 370 comes to an end, hun­dreds of Pan­dits and Mus­lims on Sun­day came to­gether to par­take of com­mu­nity feasts in the Val­ley’s prom­i­nent tem­ples and shrines. The ad­min­is­tra­tion also gave per­mis­sion to a del­e­ga­tion of Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party lead­ers to meet party chief Me­hbooba Mufti on Mon­day. Me­hbooba, too, was put un­der de­ten­tion hours be­fore the Au­gust 5 an­nounce­ment.

PM Modi and Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jing­ing will also pack in an hour-long tour of Ma­mal­la­pu­ram’s three fa­mous mon­u­ments and a cul­tural pro­gramme. An­other round of diplo­matic strife, this time over In­dia’s on­go­ing mil­i­tary ex­er­cise in Arunachal, has fur­ther de­layed the an­nounce­ment of Xi’s visit but both sides seemed con­fi­dent on Sun­day of the sum­mit pro­ceed­ing. The sum­mit has come at a time the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship faces its most test­ing pe­riod since the Dok­lam stand­off with China seen to be sid­ing with Pak­istan on the changes in J&K with re­gard to the scrap­ping of the state’s spe­cial sta­tus.

Ahead of the sum­mit, TOI got an ex­clu­sive and com­pre­hen­sive peek into the pro­gramme, which seems de­signed to al­low Modi and Xi to spend as much time as pos­si­ble in pri­vate. The ‘Wuhan’-type dis­cus­sion is in­tended to al­low the two lead­ers to tra­verse a wide range of geo-po­lit­i­cal sub­jects. The lead­ers will of­fi­cially start the in­for­mal sum­mit on Fri­day at 5 pm with an hour-long tour of mon­u­ments — Ar­juna’s Pe­nance, Panch Rathas and Shore Tem­ple — in Ma­mal­la­pu­ram. This will be fol­lowed with a cul­tural pro­gramme they will to­gether at­tend at the Shore Tem­ple.

Xi and Modi will then round off the day with a pri­vate din­ner which the lat­ter will host, again at Shore Tem­ple. Xi will then re­turn to his ho­tel in Chen­nai.

The lead­ers will start the next day at 10 am with an in­for­mal chat in the gar­dens of a five-star re­sort. This meet­ing, ex­pected to last for at least 40 min­utes, is where Xi and Modi will ex­change their world views in pri­vate, like they did on a boat ride in Wuhan last year. This will be, as a source put it, an un­scripted meet­ing where the lead­ers will fo­cus on the big pic­ture with­out get­ting dis­tracted by finer de­tails of com­plex­i­ties which have im­paired ties in the re­cent past.

The nitty-gritty will be re­served for the next round at the same venue — the for­mal del­e­ga­tion-level talks — which will seek to gen­er­ate some takeaways, per­haps the most chal­leng­ing as­pect of the sec­ond in­for­mal sum­mit. At Wuhan, the two sides had is­sued “strate­gic guid­ance” to their mil­i­taries to build trust and en­hance pre­dictabil­ity in man­age­ment of bor­der af­fairs, a sig­nif­i­cant out­come post-Dok­lam. Af­ter these talks, Modi will again meet Xi over lunch, at the same re­sort, be­fore Xi de­parts for the air­port. In all, the lead­ers will spend close to seven hours to­gether.

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