It was a cold, grey September morning in 2010 when CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ramvilas Paswan and some other leaders from Delhi walked into the house of Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The leaders were a part of the all-party delegation that went to Srinagar with a message of peace and solidarity, to end the three month-long clashes between security forces and stone-pelters that had claimed more than 50 civilian lives.
When Yechury asked for tea or coffee, an angry Geelani retorted, “How can I give you tea? There’s no milk and sugar for the last one month.” A witty Yechury quipped, “We can have it plain” and started speaking in Urdu to build a bridge.
After an hour, when the delegation walked out of Geelani’s home, they had with them an assurance that the Hurriyat hawk will not provoke the situation any further.
After six years, the central government -- this time led by the Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) -- is on the verge of sending another all-party delegation to Kashmir to reach out to the valley. This time, the situation is worse: Kashmir has erupted in violent protests after Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed on July 8.
“Security forces bullets’ have killed people in all seven districts of Kashmir. This has never happened before,” Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said in the Rajya Sabha.
Apart from the almost 60 deaths, unconfirmed reports suggest, 3,000 civilians have been wounded with pellets, many of them have lost their eye sights forever.
After the two Houses of Parliament are adjourned, the all-party meeting will be held at the Parliament House on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair the meeting where party leaders from both Houses have been invited.
Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Anand Sharma, Janata Dal(United)’s Sharad Yadav, Sitaram Yechury and Md Selim from Communist Party of India (Marxist), Sudip Bandopadhyay and Derek o’ Brien of Trinamool, Communist Party of India’s D Raja, Bhartruhari Mahtab of the Biju Janata Dal, Naresh Gujral of Shiromani Akali Dal, Paswan and senior ministers like Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh will attend the meet.
However, the crucial meeting to discuss steps to restore normalcy in violence-hit Kashmir will not be represented by prominent mainstream parties, including the state’s principal opposition party National Conference.
“We have not been invited,” Omar Abdullah, a former chief minister and NC president, told Hindustan Times on Thursday.
The PM is likely to thank all parties for speaking in one voice in the House of the Kashmir problem. Although he was accused of skipping the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Modi is likely to back a political dialogue.
But it is still unclear if this government will allow political leaders to meet separatists when they go to Kashmir, as they had done in 2010.
The 2010 all-party delegation had the soothing effect and the situation had improved drastically. But many of the recommendations of that delegation, like removing army outposts from civilian areas, remained unanswered.
These teething problems may hurt the all-party delegation when it visits the Valley after the Independence Day.