An all-party delegation will visit Kashmir in the first week of September in stepped up efforts by the government to end a wave of violence that claimed the life of another youth in the valley on Friday.
The decision to send the team came a day after Union home minister Rajnath Singh ended a two-day visit to Kashmir, announcing the government’s willingness to speak to “anybody” and promising an alternative to pellet guns which have left hundreds of people with eye injuries.
“The exact date of the visit and composition of the delegation will be finalised after consultation with all political parties,” said a senior government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to sound her out about the all-party delegation’s visit, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti might push for release of separatist leaders to enable them to hold rallies, which will allow protestors to vent their anger democratically.
Mufti is understood to have told Singh that the Centre needs to announce confidence-building measures to show its earnestness in resolving the crisis. Mufti is likely to raise the issue in her meeting with Modi in Delhi on Saturday.
Both the Centre and the state government are hoping that the situation will improve in view of the approaching Eid-ul-Zuha next month.
The thinking in the government is that the visit of leaders of different political parties might help in soothing the nerves and return of normalcy in the Valley as had happened in 2010.
It was on September 20, 2010 that a 39-member all-party delegation visited Kashmir to assess the situation in the wake of violence that claimed more than 120 lives in three months from June. The delegation gave eight suggestions, including appointing a team of interlocutors.
The interlocutors -- journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and former information commissioner MM Ansari – were appointed in October 2010.
They were tasked to begin a process of sustained uninterrupted dialogue with all sections of people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially with youths and students and all shades of political opinion.
In their report submitted to the then union home minister P Chidambaram in October 2011, the interlocutors laid down a road map for the government to address all issues pertaining to the state. Among the recommendations included regional councils for all three regions - Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh - to address local aspirations apart from improving governance with a focus on women and children.
The report, also containing suggestions on financial packages in terms of jobs, rehabilitation of families of victims of violence and reducing the number of troops in civilian areas, is yet to be implemented.
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Shakeel Ahmad Ganai was killed when security forces fired on a group of protesters in Pulwama district.
The death toll since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani rose to 69 even as the valley remained under for the 49th day.
Pulwama chief medical officer Fayaz Ahmad Shah said more than 20 wounded persons were brought to various hospitals, many of them with pellet injuries.
Ganai, who according to locals was a college student, was hit by bullets in Haal area of the Pulwama district.
Residents said that clashes erupted after people were not allowed to hold a protest prompting the youth to pelt stones on the government forces. The forces retaliated with tear gas shells, pellets and bullets.