Srinagar: The nine-member Kashmir Policy Group made up of Congress leaders and led by former prime minister Manmohan Singh, will arrive in Kashmir today to hold talks with civil society and political groups.
“He (Manmohan Singh) will arrive at 11:30am in Srinagar,” state Congress vice-president GN Monga told Kashmir Reader. “He will stay at Hari Niwas. He will hold all his public meetings there.”
He said that Manmohan and his team will first hold a meeting with the state Congress executive committee to get a sense of the prevailing situation in Kashmir.
“They will discuss with us the prevailing situation and why the state government has failed to bring peace in Kashmir,” Monga said.
He said that about 50 delegations comprising of trade, politics, and other civil society bodies will meet Singh and his team on Saturday.
“On September 17, he will meet 17 more delegations,” Monga said. “We have invited everybody. Anybody can come and meet the delegates.”
Apart from Singh, Congress leaders in the delegation include P Chidambaram, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni, Ghulam Ahmad Mir, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Tariq Hameed Karra, and Shyam Lal Sharma.
After meeting the various delegations, the Kashmir Policy Group will form its “Kashmir policy” that will aim to address political issues related to the state on “permanent basis”.
Tariq Hameed Karra, who played an instrumental role in forming the Kashmir Policy Group, termed its visit as “high-profile”.
In the aftermath of the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in July 2016, Kashmir has been rocked by pro-freedom protests and brutal state repression of them. About 100 civilians have been killed and more than a thousand hit by pellets fired by government forces, leaving many of them partially or fully blinded. This year saw an unprecedented boycott of the parliamentary election in Srinagar and Budgam, and widespread student protests that took the authorities aback.
In view of the violence and pro-freedom protests, the Congress constituted a policy-planning group for Jammu and Kashmir under the chairmanship of Dr Manmohan Singh. The party said that the group was constituted to hold dialogue with all stakeholders and help in “peace building in the state”.
The Singh-led group is arriving in Kashmir soon after the four-day visit of union home minister Rajnath Singh, who met several political parties and civil society groups in Srinagar.
Earlier, BJP leader and former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha led a team that arrived in the state twice to listen to various shades of opinion.