Congress Policy Planning Group: Hurriyat leaders are not meeting us, says Azad

Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that Hurriyat leaders are not in the list of delegations which are meeting the party’s ‘policy planning group’ headed by former PM Manmohan Singh during its two-day visit to the Valley.

“45 delegations are meeting us, but I did not see the Hurriyat in the list,” Azad said in reply to a question.

The Congress leader was speaking with reporters at Hari Niwas here where the group is meeting the delegations.

Led by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, the group comprises of senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni, PCC president G A Mir, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Tariq Hameed Karra and Sham Lal Sharma.

 The group, aiming to hold dialogue with all stakeholders and help for peace building in the state, will meet at least 45 delegations of political parties, civil society groups, youth leaders, traders, hoteliers, businessmen, local Kashmiri pandits, minority groups, saffron and fruit growers and students.

 Among the political parties meeting the group are National Conference, CPI (M), PDF and others.

Criticizing the ruling BJP Azad said that BJP-led government was afraid of naming the stakeholders in Kashmir to resolve the issue.

“Central and state governments have to decide which stakeholders to talk to. Everyone knows who the stakeholders are but they (BJP) are afraid to take the names. When they are afraid to even identify them as stakeholders, how will there be a resolution,” Azad said.

Pertinently, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had during his four-day visit said the government is working towards a permanent solution to all issues in Kashmir on the basis of five Cs–Compassion, Communication, Co-existence, Confidence-building and Consistency.

 Azad, who is the Leader of Opposition in the Upper House, said that both the governments know who the stakeholders are and they should talk to them and try to resolve the issue.

 Azad hit out at the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for growing incidents of violence in the state.

“One soldier was beheaded during the UPA government in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops and the BJP exploited the issue to the hilt against the Congress. Such incidents have also taken place during Modi government but Prime Minister is silent about it now,” Azad said.

“He (Modi) exploited the emotions of the people by raking up Kashmir and militants versus the rest of the country. Since he took over, he has taken Kashmir to the end of destruction,” Azad said, pointing out that BJP won elections by using Kashmir as a poll plank in 2014.

“Kashmir played a pivotal part in securing votes for Modi as he swept the elections,” he said.

 Detailing the Congress government’s 10 year rule from 2002, Azad said that during UPA-I and II tenures, “we had adopted a multi-pronged development and political approach.”

 “Development was going well, tourism was at its peak, cross LoC trade and visits were going, and the overall situation was peaceful,” he said.

 He said that militancy was in its lowest ebb when I was chief minister in 2007. “South Kashmir was militancy-free. Today it is boiling. Tourists are not coming. In the last three years of BJP rule, ceasefire violations are rampant and higher than compared to our 10 years rule,” he said.

 The former chief minister did not clear the Congress party’s stand on Article 35A.

“We have come to hear the people. We know our stand. Not only 35A but overall deteriorating situation in the BJP rule,” he replied to a question on the Congress’ stand on safeguarding Article 35A.

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