Srinagar: Soon after his arrival in Srinagar in the morning, former prime minister Manmohan Singh convened a meeting of the Congress’s state executive committee, which comprised senior PCC functionaries, former ministers, current and former legislators, and senior members of the party in Kashmir region.
The Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president, GA Mir, formally welcomed Manomhan and his team and thanked the party high command for constituting the 9-member ‘Kashmir Policy Group’.
In the one-and-a-half hour meeting that followed, senior leaders and legislators apprised the visiting team of the ground situation in Kashmir valley.
The Congress group met with various other delegations, including ones from opposition political parties, and was told that the “politics of control” in Kashmir should be replaced by the “politics of solution”.
Manmohan, who was accompanied by party leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary Ambika Soni, arrived in Srinagar in the morning and went straight from the airport to Hari Niwas, the erstwhile residence of the Dogra Maharaja on the banks of Dal Lake.
The Singh-led group met several delegations at Hari Niwas and the meetings were continuing even late in the evening.
Communist Party of India (M) leader MY Tarigami said he told the former prime minister that the Government of India (GOI) can control the situation using forces on the ground, but a temporary lull cannot be taken as the solution of Kashmir.
“I told Manmohan ji that the politics of control should end. The politics of solution should take the lead,” Tarigami said. “I told them that GOI can control the situation through security forces, but it is control, not solution. A lull or thaw in the situation should not be taken as the solution of Kashmir. The government should draw lessons from the blunders committed by New Delhi in the past.”
Saying that he explained in detail the situation in Kashmir, Tarigami said he told Manmohan and his team that the situation was very complex and serious.
“Our delegation apprised him that an unprecedented situation has arisen in Kashmir for the past two years. We told them that in the past two years the uncertainty and insurgency has grown bigger in size,” Tarigami said.
“What went wrong? I told them that the GOI should introspect. We told them that local politics in Kashmir has been used for partisan interests of the national parties. As of now, the government in the centre is, unfortunately, not friendly. Rather, they have a very communal and sectarian approach towards Kashmir,” Tarigami said.
National Conference (NC) general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar said that his party explained its position on Kashmir to the Manmohan-led team.
“As we told home minister Rajnath Singh, we said the same thing to Manmohan ji – that GOI should talk to the stakeholders and India and Pakistan should start a dialogue. We want to bring peace in the region and in the state as well,” Sagar said.
Awami Itehad Party (AIP) firebrand leader Engineer Rasheed said he told the Manmohan-led team that the Kashmir problem was due to the Congress.
“I told them it was your responsibility to take initiatives and pave the way towards Kashmir’s solution. I further told them that they should not have opposed Prime Minister Modi when he visited Lahore. I told them that their intervention should help in solving the problem, not in making it more complex,” Rasheed said.
About 30 delegations had met with Manmohan and his team till late evening. The group was scheduled to meet 50 delegations on Saturday.
The delegations listed for Saturday’s meetings included those from ‘Kashmir Civil Society’, ‘South Kashmir Civil Society’, delegations from Anantnag, Kulgam, Srinagar, Budgam, STs, OBCs, Shia Association, Hussianee People’s Council, Flood Victims, Youth Forum, KPS non migrants, Women’s Delegation, Saffron Growers, Hotel House Boat, KHROFF, Tour and Travels, Adventure Tourism, and Panchayat.