Srinagar: The Centre is likely to take a call on the issue of holding talks with the Kashmiri separatist groups, including the Hurriyat Conference, after Union home minister Amit Shah personally gauges the political landscape and also reviews the prevailing law and order and security situation in Jammu and Kashmir during his two-day visit beginning on Wednesday.
The home minister was earlier due to reach here on a day-long trip on June 30 but his visit was advanced due to his “busy schedule connected with the Union Budget”, official sources said. They added Mr Shah will chair a high-level security meeting in Srinagar and address BJP workers and panchayat members separately during this visit.
On his maiden visit to J&K as home minister, Mr Shah is also likely to hold a one-on-one meet with governor Satya Pal Malik, and separately with senior mainstream political leaders, including those from the BJP, to seek their views on evaluating the security situation. He will also pay obeisance at the Amarnath shrine, the sources said.
Kashmir’s chief Muslim cleric and senior separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq had said last week that the Centre should take the initiative to start the stalled dialogue process in the state, and “all such sincere efforts would get the desired response”. He said the Narendra Modi government, in its second term, must “use the decisive mandate it got from the people to take bold decisions to resolve the Kashmir problem and all other outstanding issues with Pakistan to bring about lasting peace in South Asia”.
He further said: “With such a massive mandate, it is the responsibility of the Centre to take forward the political process in the state and initiate all possible measures to end the cycle of violence in the state”.
Responding to this, J&K governor Satya Pal Malik had said he welcomes the “change of heart” among the separatist leaders on the option of resolving issues confronting the state through talks. “The Hurriyat (Conference) leaders who once shut their doors to Ram Vilas Paswan, are now saying they are ready for talks,” he said while speaking at a function in Srinagar over the weekend.
While the Centre has not indicated anything on the issue — on whether it is willing to start a dialogue with the separatists or not, BJP national vice-president and J&K affairs in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna said here Monday that his party was ready to carry forward the dialogue legacy of then PM Atal Behari Vajpayee with the Hurriyat leaders. But he hastened to add that there would be no compromise on the Constitution. He said: “We are for dialogue and the fact is that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is creating an atmosphere for peace and reconciliation. We are open to talks with the Hurriyat leaders but within the ambit of the Constitution.” He added: “We are ready to carry forward the dialogue legacy of Vajpayeeji, but there can be no compromise on the country’s Constitution. The Hurriyat is welcome to talk to us or even the Prime Minister.”
Speaking to this newspaper on Tuesday, the Mirwaiz said: “We have been, from Day 1, been saying that Kashmir is a political issue that ought to be resolved politically through a dialogue after taking all the stakeholders on board. That’s why when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was returned to power with a huge mandate in the recent elections we said he and Pakistan PM Imran Khan should take the process of dialogue forward and after taking the people of Kashmir into confidence. This is not something new. Our principled stand has been that the issue of Kashmir can be resolved only through a dialogue.”
Replying to a question, he said neither the Centre nor the governor’s administration or anyone on their behalf had so far established contact with him on the issue of holding a dialogue.