Sharma takes the extra step, reaches out to Omar Abdullah

Srinagar: Former Chief Minister and leader of the opposition party Omar Abdullah met the newly appointed interlocutor Dineshawar Sharma today at the former’s residence.

According to the sources, the duo discussed the prevailing situation in the state among many issues prevailing in the state.

“Dineshwar Sharma sent a message saying he wants to meet me. He told me about the responsibilities he is dealing with as the new interlocutor. We discussed the prevailing situation in the state and also steps that can be taken to make his visits to the state more meaningful,” Abdullah told reporters after the meeting at his residence.

He added that Sharma asked for his suggestions to guide him through.

“He also asked how he can make his mission fruitful. I hope he will consider my suggestions. We all want to solve Kashmir issue through a dialogue and make Valley’s environment peaceful,” Abdullah further said.

The former Chief Minister said that sitting in a guesthouse and waiting for people to come and meet him won’t yield results.

“I hope to see more activities in his efforts next time when he would arrive again because all of us want this issue to be resolved through dialogue and people here spend their lives in peace and calm environment”.

When asked about his father and party president Farooq Abdullah’s remarks that it was a futile exercise to meet the special representative of the centre in view of past experience, Omar said “ Farooq Abdullah  didn’t  said anything wrong”.

 “The Centre itself dampened our expectations and Prime Minister himself made a statement saying talking about internal autonomy is akin to talking about Azadi. So for people like us who talk about internal autonomy it is obvious that it was like sprinkling water on our hopes,” Omar explained.

He said it will be evident from the activities of Dineshwar Sharma and how much support he gets from union government. “As of now I would only say that whatever Farooq Sahab said wasn’t wrong”.

In reply to a question whether he raised the issue of autonomy during the talks with the interlocutor, the former chief minister said, “See, I spoke to Sharma alone. My party so far has not received any formal invitation for talks. If any delegation from National Conference talks to Sharma next time then that time we will talk about internal autonomy and NC’s political agenda. As of now, I didn’t say anything like that.”

Asked why did Sharma face a cold response in the Valley, Omar said “the misunderstandings that were created by Centre about Sharma’s mission and that his status was undermined particularly from PMO office. Home Ministry would be rectified and the roadblocks that were created by Centre in the mission of Sharma would be cleared. If that happens – I think this time less people met him – I hope next time more people would be ready to meet him”.   

However, he maintained that the responsibility lies on Centre. Till now, the Centre instead of making the task of its representative easy-has made it difficult.

In answer to another question, Omar said “As of now, no reservations have been cleared. We are looking towards Centre that they make such a forward movement which clear these reservations. They should understand this that the way people should have met Sharma didn’t happen. To make mission of Sharma more successful, the Centre has to think about that.”

Earlier in the day, Omar said that they discussed the steps that can be taken to make his visits to the state more meaningful.

In a tweet former Chief Minister said that, “Mr Dineshawar Sharma & I met at my residence in Srinagar this morning. We discussed the prevailing situation in the state as also steps that can be taken to make his visits to the state more meaningful.”

Pertinently, Sharma is on his first leg of visit to the valley to meet different stakeholders involved in the peace process. During the last two days, former IB chief met lesser-known political and civil groups.

However, Joint resistance leadership comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Mohammad Yaseen Malik has refused to meet Sharma saying “meeting Sharma is a futile exercise like his predecessors”.

Earlier, National Conference patron and former union minister Farooq Abdullah had stated that the  Central government should devise a sound Kashmir policy and termed the appointment of a new interlocutor to J&K as nothing new.


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