Srinagar: On his third visit, (GoI) special representative to Jammu and Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, on Monday met at least 40 delegations in northern Kashmir’s Kupwara district along the Line of Control (LoC).
Those who met Sharma included family members of the slain Sumo driver from Kralpora, who was killed allegedly in firing by army soldiers in the dead of night early this month. Besides, delegations of traders, lawyers, Gujjar and Bakerwals, Pahari-speaking people, people from Karnah, Machil, Keran, and youth delegations met Sharma at the Dak Bunglow.
“Sharma reached Dak Bunglow at around 1pm amid tight security,” a source in J&K Police department said. “Soon after, hundreds of people met him in delegations and the meetings continued till late night,” he said.
“The father of the slain Sumo driver, along with a few members from his area, met Sharma, who sought action against the guilty,” sources quoting the meeting details said. “Sharma assured the slain driver’s father that he will take up the matter with the authorities concerned.” Sharma listened to the slain driver’s family for at least fifteen minutes.
Sharma — a former head of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) — was appointed by the GoI on October 24 to start a “multi-layered, sustained dialogue to address the Kashmir problem”.
The demands of those who met Sharma, sources said, “ranged from governance issues to resolution of the Kashmir dispute.”
A joint delegation of at least ten people from Keran area of Karnah, led by MLA Karnah, met Sharma. “We were evacuated from our native village along the LoC in Keran in 1990s and we are living a life of displaced people, but no package or anything regarding our rehabilitation was done,” the delegation told Sharma, sources in the know of the meeting told Kashmir Reader. “The delegation referred to special packages for Kashmiri Pandits and asked Sharma why they were left out if they, too, were internally displaced people.”
“Our properties, including land and houses, were taken away. It is a no-man’s land now but we have not been given any money,” they said. “Our children are losing their identity… it is not easy for them to get status as state subjects,” members of the delegation reportedly told Sharma.
The delegation also made demands related to roads and other infrastructure, besides creation of jobs for people living along the LoC.
“Sharma told the delegation that their demands were genuine and will be taken up with the authorities immediately,” sources said.
Another delegation led by MLA Kupwara met Sharma. Members of the Kupwara unit of the Congress also met the GoI’s special representative.
“I am still meeting the people,” Sharma told Kashmir Reader when contacted at 8pm.
Sources said that intensive security arrangements were made for the high-profile visit and check-points were established at various points in main Kupwara town. Government forces also checked vehicles moving in the town.
“Sharma will be staying in the district for the night,” sources said. “He is visiting Baramulla on Tuesday, where he is also scheduled to meet people to listen to their grievances.”
Local journalists who had reached Dak Bunglow well in time to cover Sharma’s visit were not allowed to enter the venue. “It was after a long hour’s wait, and after protests by media personnel, that they were allowed inside the venue,” sources said.
During his first two visits to J&K, Sharma stayed at Srinagar, where he met various delegations including pro-India politicians.
On his second visit, he visited southern parts of Kashmir including Pulwama and Anantnag districts. He also met people in Jammu. So far, he has not visited Ladakh region of J&K.
A 1979-batch former Indian Police Service officer, Sharma is believed to have a clear understanding of the problems faced by the people in Kashmir, thanks to his stint in the IB here.
Sharma has so far not directly engaged with the resistance leadership leaders, although reports claimed Sharma met senior Hurriyat Conference leader Abdul Gani Bhat during his last visit to the Valley.
The joint resistance leadership (JRL) led by Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik have dismissed the possibility of engaging in a dialogue with Sharma, describing the entire process as an “eyewash by the Indian government”.