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Manmohan to meet Mufti, Mehbooba

delhi Updated: Aug 16, 2010 23:45 IST
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Aurangzeb Naqshbandi
Hindustan Times
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will meet former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his daughter Mehbooba Mufti in Delhi soon to elicit their views on the prevailing situation in the valley and also seek their suggestions on how to defuse the crisis.

The meeting -- likely to be held on Friday -- is significant since both Mufti, a veteran Kashmiri politician and the first Muslim Home Minister of India, and Mehbooba, the president of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have so far stayed away from any process initiated to bring semblance of normality in the strife-torn valley.

Kashmir is witnessing a cycle of violence since June 11 when a 17-year-old student was allegedly killed in the police firing. Since then, about 60 people have died in the protests across the valley. On Sunday, suspended police official Abdul Ahad Jan flung a shoe at Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, minutes after he unfurled the tricolour at the Independence Day event in Srinagar.

The PDP had boycotted both the all-party meetings - the first convened by Abdullah in Srinagar on July 12 and the second by the Prime Minister in Delhi on August 10.

Mehbooba on the first occasion insisted that the Prime Minister should call a meeting and not the chief minister, as it would serve no purpose. Singh had even called up the PDP chief to impress upon her to be on the same page with the state government in tackling the current unrest.

She again rejected the invitation to attend the all-party meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, saying the decision was taken at the July 12 initiative where her party was not present and therefore, it had "nothing to do with the useless exercise".

Mehbooba, who is the Leader of the Opposition in the state assembly, had also stayed away from the Independence Day function as both she and her father had to attend a family function organised by her sister, Rubaiya Sayeed, in Chennai.

On his part, Singh -- who on Tuesday will visit Ladakh ravaged by the August 6 cloudburst -- had expressed his willingness to meet the Muftis separately to discuss ways and means to restore calm in Kashmir.

At the same time, pressure is mounting on Abdullah to step down with critics claiming that he is "evidently not in control" of the situation. They also accuse him of poor governance and failing to reach out to his disgruntled constituents.

But the Congress and the central government have rallied behind the chief minister with the hope that he would take charge of the situation and make efforts to restore peace in troubled Kashmir.