Srinagar: Government of India’s special representative for Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma on Monday reached Srinagar and met “youth groups” and “non-political” delegations. He is on a five-day visit—three days in Srinagar and two in Jammu—during which he will hold talks with various “stakeholders” in the Kashmir issue.
Sharma, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau, arrived at Srinagar airport at noon in a regular flight and was received by the Kashmir Divisional Commissioner, Baseer Ahmed Khan, officials said. He was driven to the state guest house at Hari Niwas where he met the delegations.
“Eleven delegations were listed for the meeting today and eight of them have met him till now,” the Divisional Commissioner told Kashmir Reader at the time this report was being filed.
The delegations that Sharma met included youth groups, leaders of Gujjar and Bakerwal communities, and members from associations of fruit and saffron growers.
“I met several delegations and more people are waiting,” Sharma said while talking to Kashmir Reader. “I am hopeful that I will get full cooperation from people. The meetings are going on; I am still in a meeting,” he said.
General Secretary of the Gujjar Bakerwal Association, Yasin Poswal, termed his meeting with Sharma as positive. He said that he talked with Sharma for more than half an hour.
“We told him that to start any dialogue, the people who are languishing in jails for political causes should be let free,” Poswal, who was leading a ten-member delegation, said.
“We told him that Hurriyat people are our brothers and should be taken on board,” he said, adding that Sharma enquired from him about the Gujjar community and the problems they are facing.
“We also raised the issue that Gujjars are being evacuated from different areas of Jammu,” Poswal said.
Tariq Bhat, who runs an online radio station in Srinagar, also called upon Sharma. “I raised issues about youth, particularly about those who are languishing in jails under Public Safety Act,” Tariq, who was accompanied with two associates, told Kashmir Reader.
He said that he requested Sharma to visit districts particularly in south Kashmir “and interact with the common youth”.
“I told him that our place has turned into a police state. It is because of the atrocities committed by the police that youth are alienated,” Tariq said.
He also said that he raised issues of “rampant corruption” prevalent in the state, and told Sharma that “Kashmir issue needs to be discussed with the Hurriyat.”
“On the Hurriyat issue he (Sharma) said that our channels are open for them as well,” Tariq said.
He said that Sharma gave him word that on his next visit, he will visit other districts and will interact with the youth there.
As per officials, twenty-five delegations are listed for meeting with Sharma on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that she is optimistic that “parties and organisations” will “not miss” the “opportunity”.
“The hope of resolution via dialogue has been rekindled in J&K,” Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.
“I am optimistic that parties and organisations in J&K will not miss this opportunity to be part of peace parleys,” she wrote.
The Joint Resistance Leadership of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik has already rejected the idea of meeting Sharma.
Prominent trade bodies in Kashmir have also stayed away, saying that the previous exercise of interlocutors and their reports all proved futile.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), the Federation of Chambers of Industries Kashmir (FCIK), the Houseboat Owners Association of Kashmir (HBOAK) and the Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners’ Federation (KHAROF) have refused to meet Sharma despite an invitation from the divisional administration, reports said.
The houseboat owners association and the hotel and restaurant owners’ federation also did not respond to invitations to meet Sharma. The invitations were sent by the divisional commissioner’s office.
Sharma is likely to call upon CPI (M) leader MY Tarigami, Hakeem Yaseen of the Peoples Democratic Front, and Ghulam Hassan Mir of the J&K Democratic Party Nationalist on Wednesday.
“We have fixed an appointment and Mr Sharma will meet us in the morning at my (Gupkar) residence,” Tarigami said.
Sharma will be staying in Srinagar till Nov 8, during which he will meet more than 60 different delegations.
The Congress and the National Conference, the two major pro-India parties in Kashmir, are yet to decide on meeting him.
“We will discuss tomorrow with our party cadres if and when we are meeting,” said GA Mir, state president of the Congress.
The National Conference, as per party sources, will also hold a meet to discuss about meeting Sharma.