Pulwama: The Government of India’s special representative, Dineshwar Sharma who is on his sixth visit to the Valley following his appointment as interlocutor Thursday met six delegations in Tral area which is considered as the most volatile area in the Valley.
Amid tight security arrangements Sharma met six delegations who called on him in Tral area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
Sources privy to the development said that six delegations who met Sharma were mainly from Awantipora and Tral Civil Society while as the Citizen Council, Traders Unions and Awqaf Committee boycotted the meeting.
Those who met Sharma today include Sikh community, Cricket Team Mantaqi eleven from Awantipora, a delegation from Jawbehara and few advocates working at Awantipora Court.
Sources said that three Sikh delegations including Gurduwara Praband Committee Awantipora who met Sharma demanded minority status for Sikh community.
A delegation from Jawbehara after meeting Sharma said that “we raised the issue of our land that is under Victor force, CRPF and police.”
They added that their whole productive land is under forces and “we are left with only barren land.”
They said that Sharma gave patient hearing to their pleas and assured that he will take up the issue with DDC Pulwama.
A Cricket team from Mantaqi eleven Awantipora, who were carrying cricket bats with them met Sharma and discussed the issue of cricket infrastructure with him.
A player from the team said that “we are presently playing a cricket tournament organised by Awantipora Police and we were send by them to meet Sharma and put forward demands for the enhancement of sports infrastructure before him.”
He said that Awantipora area is sans all sports facilities, adding that Sharma patiently heard their demands and assured all possible help to them.
Sharma’s main focus was south Kashmir, as it remained most volatile following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander, Burhan Wani in 2016 that also led to the uprising that continued for six months.
Pertinently, in the wake of threats by militant groups, Sharma arrived in Tral in a helicopter to hold meetings at the town hall.
The building was turned into an impregnable fortress with security personnel keeping a strict vigil.
However, the security personnel did not hamper the daily lives of the residents, who were seen moving about freely, with children playing cricket in the ground adjacent to the venue.
Tral, which is located 47 km from Srinagar, shot into prominence in 2014 after the rise of Hizbul Muajhideen poster boy Burhan Wani who was subsequently killed in an encounter in July 2016. The area recorded 1.53 per cent polling during the last parliamentary elections.
Tral is part of Awantipura police district and the area has some presence of ISIS militants as well. In the past six terror strikes in the state, the militants mainly belonging to Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group hatched their conspiracies in this area.
The Centre’s interlocutor was apprised about the security situation in Tral ahead of his visit but that did not deter him from meeting people in the area considered to be the hotbed of terrorism.
After his appointment in October last year, Sharma has made several trips to the Kashmir Valley including to areas such as Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam in South Kashmir which are all considered as breeding grounds of militancy.
“I have to understand the pain and for that I have to meet people in their homes. I have to understand their living condition so that I can improve upon that,” Sharma said.
Sharma said the number of delegates that he met in Tral started the conversation at a very high decibel level but at the end, they were satisfied that he had heard them patiently and assured redressal of their grievances.
While some delegations wanted a play ground for children, the others complained of alleged harassment by the Army and security personnel.
“Some wanted that a political solution should be arrived soon so that the Kashmir issue comes to an end. I know I do not have a magic wand in my hand to set everything right but I can always lend a patient ear and try whatever to bring some relief to their daily lives,” Sharma said.
He admitted that fear was looming large in Tral, but expressed hope that all-round development was necessary for the area to negate the negative influence of militant and separatist groups.
“You see, Tral is famous for its natural springs. The area can turn around into exotic tourist locations and necessary steps should be taken for that. The fruits of economy should reach the common people in the area. This should be our endeavour and this should be our goal,” he said. (with input from PTI)