Delegation will visit Ladakh too, next meeting in Delhi: Rajnath
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today dropped enough hints for phase wise dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir saying the State comprised of three regions— Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and they would visit Ladakh very soon for direct talks with the people even as he lashed out at the Kashmir separatists calling their behaviour with some of the All Party Delegation (APD) members, who had gone to meet them in their individual capacity, as neither ‘Insaniyat’ nor ‘Kashmiriyat’. Addressing press conferences at Srinagar this morning and in Jammu in the evening before winding up two-day visit of the APD and returning to New Delhi, Rajnath said the All Party Delegation has visited Kashmir and Jammu and it would soon visit Ladakh for “direct talks’’ with the people there. The statement by Rajnath Singh assumed significance as it came just few days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interview to a national TV channel that Kashmir is not only part of J&K but there are Jammu and Ladakh regions too, which have their own aspirations. The statement also came only a day after BJP Lok Sabha member from Ladakh, Thupstan Chhewang lashed out at the delegation during meeting with them in Srinagar for neglecting Ladakh asking whether the APD will visit the Himalayan region when people there would take up arms. “Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh are three parts of the State. We have visited Kashmir and Jammu and met delegations. We will also visit Ladakh and inter-act with the people there very soon,’’ he said in his press conference here this evening before departing for New Delhi. Another official member of the delegation, Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), accompanied Rajnath in the press conference. Replying to a question on future course of action by the APD, Rajnath said the delegation will now meet in New Delhi. “We will meet in New Delhi now to discuss in detail the discussions we had with large number of delegations in Srinagar and Jammu and what steps were required to be taken to restore peace and normalcy in the Kashmir valley, which has been facing unrest for the past 58 days now,’’ he said. Though Rajnath didn’t specify date for next meeting of the APD, sources told the Excelsior that it would be held in New Delhi on September 7. They added that future course of action will be decided by the APD in New Delhi after the meeting shortly. Sources said Chief Secretary BR Sharma, DGP K Rajendra Kumar and GOC Srinagar based 15 Corps Lt Gen SK Dua also briefed the delegation this morning in Srinagar on behalf of civil administration, police and Army. They were joined by other senior officers. They briefed the delegation about prevailing situation in the Valley and steps being taken to restore peace. Late last night after Governor NN Vohra hosted dinner for the delegation, Rajnath Singh, Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had separate meeting for half an hour to discuss Kashmir unrest, measures in place to maintain peace and more steps required for restoration of normalcy. Significantly, Rajnath maintained silence on a question whether the Central Government will continue to engage the separatists. Singh said the delegation had very good interactions with individuals and groups during its visit to Kashmir and Jammu and heard their views on different issues. He didn’t agree with a reporter that the visit was a failure. He disagreed with the questioner saying it can’t be described as a failure. The delegation, he said, had ‘very good interactions’ with individuals and groups during its visit to Srinagar and Jammu and heard their views on different issues. The Home Minister said many members of the delegation had little knowledge about Jammu and Kashmir and the visit helped them to understand the ground situation of the State. “I hope that whenever any discussion on Jammu and Kashmir takes place in Parliament, we will get full cooperation from them,” he said. The delegation included 26 MPs from 20 parties apart from Rajnath Singh, who headed it. Two other official members of the delegation were Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh. In his press briefing in Srinagar this morning, Rajnath said that the doors fordialogue on Kashmir are always open but ruled out any talks with Pakistan on the issue in near future. He ruled out talks with Pakistan. “Don’t take us out of country, first I am talking to people in the country”, he said. Singh said they are ready for dialogue on Kashmir but made it clear that it will be only held within the ambit of the Constitution. “There are no two opinions that Jammu and Kashmir was, is and will remain an integral part of India. I know people of Kashmir also want this. Not only our doors but windows are also open for talks,” he said. The Home Minister said like his previous visits to Kashmir since the unrest began in the Valley, he had expressed his willingness for talks with anyone who wants peace and normalcy in the State. The Union Minister said that whole nation is pained and concerned about happenings in Kashmir. “And, the talks with different delegations that went on since yesterday was good and better. And, I want to appeal to the friends of media that not only we people have concern about the situation in Kashmir but whole Parliament, Government, country is pained. Need everyone’s cooperation”, he said. He lashed out at Hurriyat Conference leaders for their refusal to hold talks with members of the All-Party Delegation. He said the separatists’ behaviour showed they do not believe in Kashmiriyat, insaniyat (humanity) or Jamhooriyat (democracy). “The information given by the delegates (about how the members were treated) makes it clear that it is neither Kashmiriyat nor Insaniyat,” Singh said. “Some members of delegation went to meet Hurriyat leaders in their individual capacity. We neither said ‘Yes’ nor ‘No’ (to the move)”, he said. Coming down heavily on the separatists who yesterday snubbed attempts by MPs like CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI’s D Raja, JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, RJD’s Jay Prakash Narayan and AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi to reach out to them, the Home Minister said: “The members had gone to hold talks but by refusing to talk, they have shown that they (separatists) do no believe in Jamhooriyat as well.” Singh evaded a direct reply to a question about BJP support or otherwise to the move by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to write to the separatists urging them to engage with the delegation for resolution of Kashmir issue. “Yes, I have information about that …. She had written a letter,” he said without specifying whether BJP, which is ally of PDP in the State Government, supported the move. In response to another question, the Home Minister said he did not want to go into the debate about back channel talks with the separatists or appointment of a fresh team of interlocutors on Kashmir. “Track one, Track Two, Track Three … I do not want to get into this debate,” he said. The Union Home Minister said that the APD sought suggestions from different groups and will look at them for improving situation in Kashmir. “Before (holding talks with delegations and political parties), who was saying what and who is saying what, I would not like to say discuss anything here (about that). We have sought suggestion from everyone and in future, if need arises, we will see everyone’s suggestion and cooperation for improving situation in Kashmir. I don’t want to engage in the debate of who was saying what earlier and who is saying what now”, he added. He said that the APD met about 300 people during their two day visit to Kashmir and disclosed that every one wants normalcy to be restored in Kashmir. “All of you know that since yesterday, an AllParty Delegation (APD) of Parliament has come here to talk with the people of Kashmir. The Parliament is country’s biggest Panchayat and this biggest Panchayat of the country is very much concerned about the Kashmir problem. And that Panchayat (Parliament) decided that a delegation should go Kashmir to assess the situation (in Valley). Around 26 delegates of 20 political parties are part of this APD and since yesterday, more than 30 delegations comprising of at least 300 persons that included political parties, people from civil society, some teachers from University, Vice-Chancellor, fruit growers, students and some intellectuals presented their views before APD. Everyone wants that situation in Kashmir should normalize. The APD held talks with all these delegations and also held talks, with Jammu and Kashmir’s Governor, Chief Minister and also with State officials. I am confident that there would be improvement in the situation of Jammu and Kashmir”, he said. Singh said that Centre is extending full cooperation to State Government for improving situation in Kashmir. “As far as the Central Government is concerned, we are extending all cooperation to State Government. The State Government under the leadership of Mehbooba Mufti is also trying to improve the situation”, he added. Singh said that the alternative to pellet guns that has led to serious eye injuries and deaths of few people in Kashmir has been found and PAVA shells will now be used for crowd control. “At this point, I want to remind you that on July 24 and 25 when I came here and that time people had complained about pellet guns and, I had said that I am constituting an expert committee that will submit its report in two months. And, they will give suggestion over what could be the other alternatives of non-lethal weapons. The committee even as two months were yet to complete has given its suggestions and the alternative of the non-lethal weapon has been suggested as PAVA shells. I think that won’t result in death of anyone. Since yesterday, 1000 shells have already arrived here”, the Home Minister said. Singh said that Centre has appointed a Nodal Officer to tackle the issues of Kashmiri students studying in various States of the country. “Last time, when I came here, it was also complained that children of Kashmir who are studying in schools, colleges, technical institutes and medical colleges in other parts of country have also some issues and complaints. And, soon after (his) return, we appointed a Nodal Officer in Home Ministry whose name is Dr Sanjay Rai. I want through your medium also wants to give his number and this phone line will always remain available. The number is 23092923, 23092885″, he added. Apart from the Home Minister, the delegation also included Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, his Lok Sabha colleague Mallikarjun Kharge, senior Congress leader Ambika Soni, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan (of LJP), JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI leader D Raja. NCP’s Tariq Anwar and Trinamool Congress’ Saugata Roy, Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut and Anandrao Adsul, TDP’s Thota Narasimham, Shiromani Akali Dal’s Prem Singh Chandumajra, BJD’s Dilip Tirkey, AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi, AIUDF’s Badaruddin Ajmal and Muslim League’s E Ahamed were party of the delegation. TRS’ Jitendra Reddy, N K Premchandran (RSP), P Venugopal (AIADMK), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Y B Subba (YSRCong), Jaiprakash Yadav (RJD), Dharamveer Gandhi (AAP) and Dushyant Chautala (RLD) were also in the team. An official release issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs tonight said an All Party Delegation visiting Jammu and Kashmir concluded its visit today. The delegation was on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir. “On the second day of its visit today, the delegation visited Jammu after visiting Srinagar. In Jammu, the delegation met over 200 persons in about 18 different delegations from various sections of society. Delegation of Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry led by its president Rakesh Gupta, Chamber of Traders Federation of Jammu Province led by Neeraj Anand, Federation of Industries led by its president Lalit Mahajan and the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association led by its president Advocate Abhinav Sharma met the All Party delegation,” it said. The release said a composite delegation of Jammu Hotels, Lodges, Taxi Tour and Travel operators also discussed their issues with the All Party Delegation. The Doda and Talwara Reasi migrants, Kashmiri migrants’ delegations and a composite delegation of J&K PoJK Refugees Front discussed their problems with the delegation in Jammu. Besides this, delegations of West Pakistani Refugee Action Committee-1947, All Jammu Civil Society Forum (Dogra Sadar Sabha), Vishav Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Gurjar Manch, Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Muslim Front led by Imran Qazi, Anjuman-e-Imamia, Jammu led by Syed Amanat Ali Shah, J&K Christian Dalit Society of Jammu and Panthers Party led by Harshdev Singh also met the delegation. “Earlier in the day, before reaching Jammu, the All Party Delegation met various delegations including political parties and civil society organizations in Srinagar today. These delegations included Shah Hamdan Public Welfare Trust led by its President Dr. Nazir Ahmad Dhar, J&K State Rashtriya Janta Dal led by general secretary Mehraj-ud-din Ganai, J&K Development Foundation led by its president Bilal Parry, Lok Janshakti Party (YUVA) led by its national president Sanjay Saraf, J&K National Democratic Front led by its Chairman Abdul Rashid Kabuli, J&K Kashmir Wattan Parast Front led by Khalid Tufail and Prof. Abdul Rashid Shawl as an individual,” the Home Ministry handout said. During the discussions, it said, various points emerged e.g. perception management of media, specially social media is very important to channelize the energies of our youths in the right direction. “The media should report on the incidents keeping the larger context in mind. The concern was also expressed on the source of funding of the terrorrelated activities”. It was also emphasized that rehabilitation of released/surrendered militants is also very important for which the Government already has a scheme, the release said.