SRINAGAR: An all-party delegation will arrive here on Monday on a two-day mission to assess the ground situation in Kashmir even as People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which threatened to pull out of the talks, and the ruling National Conference, sparred each accusing the other of trying to scuttle the process.
The separatists gave mixed signals. While the moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference headed by Mr Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) led by Mr Mohammad Yasin Malik will hold joint consultations to decide whether to meet the delegation, the hardline faction led by Mr Syed Ali Shah Geelani has decided to boycott it.
The 38-member team to be led by the Home Minister, Mr P Chidambaram hopes that the leaders of various separatist groups will finally come for the talks to help break the impasse in Kashmir which has witnessed unabated violence over the last few months claiming over 100 lives.
Striking a sour note on the eve of the meeting, PDP threatened to reconsider its participation accusing the Jammu and Kashmir government of "sabotaging" the visit by clamping curfew in the Valley. "If the repressive measures continue, we will have to reconsider our decision (of being part of the all-party initiative)," PDP president, Ms Mehbooba Mufti told reporters here. She said there was no purpose in the visit of the all-party delegation if the members of the civil society, those raising the voice of dissent and the common people are not allowed to meet it.
Dismissing the PDP charge as misleading and baseless, Jammu and Kashmir Law Minister, Mr Ali Mohammad said it was surprising that it was all praise for the all-party initiative two days ago but has suddenly changed its stand. "I do not know what has changed in two days. I will leave it to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide who is trying to scuttle the visit of the delegation."
The Chief Minister, Mr Omar Abdullah rejecting the demand for his resignation, said without naming any party that those behind it were "some frustrated political elements who failed to make it to the government in the 2008 elections." He said even separatists like Mr Geelani and Mr Mirwaiz have no issues with his government and were articulating an ideology they have been practicing for the last two decades.
Mr Abdullah said his government would facilitate all those who are sincere about finding a solution to the present crisis to talk to the all-party delegation. An invitation has been extended to Hurriyat Conference factions led by Mr Geelani and Mr Farooq as well as to JKLF chief, Mr Yaseen Malik for participating in the talks.
Among the members of the delegation will be Mr Arun Jaitley and Ms Sushma Swaraj (BJP), Mr Mulayam Singh (SP), Mr T R Baalu (DMK), Mr Ramvilas Paswan (LJP), Mr Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Mr Rajniti Prasad (RJD), Mr Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamool), Mr E Ahamed (Indian Union Muslim League) and Mr Govind Rao Adik (NCP). Mr Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM), Mr Rattan Singh Ajnala (SAD), Mr Narhari Mahato (Forward Bloc), Mr Prasanto Majumdar (RSP), Mr M Thambidurai (AIADMK), Mr Basudeb Acharya (CPM), Mr Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) and Dr Farooq Abdullah of the National Conference will also come but representatives of Shiv Sena and TRS are yet to confirm their arrival in Kashmir.
Mr Geelani ruled out meeting the delegation saying its mandate was limited to holding talks within the framework of the Indian Constitution. Mr Mirwaiz said, "We are in consultation with our constituents and even like-minded parties outside Hurriyat including JKLF, to decide on the invitation of meeting the all-party delegation." He said a decision on the issue will be taken by Monday. Mr Mirwaiz said it was ironic that on one hand, he was being invited to meet the delegation and on the other, he has been placed under house arrest. "Minutes after getting the invitation for the meeting, I have been placed under house arrest," he said.