A crucial all-party meeting on Friday 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.
Kashmir is under curfew for 34 days after the killing of a militant commander triggered violent street protests in the Valley on July 9, leaving at least 55 people dead, most of them in firing by security forces on stone-pelting mobs.
The all-party meeting was announced by home minister Rajnath Singh in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday during an impassioned discussion on the volatile situation in Kashmir, aggravated by a high number of civilian injuries caused by pellet guns used by security forces. Singh said the meet will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“They will be discussing Kashmir with people who cannot find towns on the map and they will talk based on opinions formed on the basis of newspaper articles and television discussions,” Abdullah said.
“The AIADMK and the DMK will be a part of these discussions. Sure, they are entitled to an opinion, but it is surprising that we have not received an invite. If I had been the chief minister, I would have called the PM and HM to ensure that all Kashmiri parties are represented at the meeting that is centred around us.’’
The lone CPI(M) MLA Yousuf Tarigami and independent legislator Engineer Rashid said they too were not invited to the meeting, announced a day after Modi invoked former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s principles of insaaniyat (humanism), jamhooriyat (democracy) and Kashmiriyat (Kashmir’s legacy of amity) in an attempt to reach out to the people of the Valley.
“I haven’t been asked, though I did attend the all-party meeting in 2010,” said Tarigami, who represents Kulgam in south Kashmir that has been under lockdown since militant commander Burhan Wani was killed on July 8.
Abdullah was the chief minister in 2010 when a similar meet was held after a cycle of violence rocked the Valley following a fake encounter. An all-party delegation had visited Kashmir then and a team of interlocutors was mandated to draft recommendations for settling the issue.
“My advice now, please don’t bother to send an all-party delegation to the Valley. A delegation came in 2010 and agreed to set up a team of interlocutors. They submitted a report. Accept that the document is already available and table it in both Houses of Parliament,” Abdullah said.
“The Modi government is only ticking boxes because they are being nudged by the Opposition. What’s the point of such reluctance? It’s a mere exercise. Modi spoke, box ticked. Parliament had a discussion, box ticked. An all-party meeting is being held, box ticked. I am forced to doubt their intentions,” he added.
The former chief minister said it was futile to kick-start initiatives only when there is a crisis in Kashmir. “Don’t seek to reinvent the wheel. There is no credibility attached to this process.”
Rashid termed the Parliament debate a “ceremonious exercise”.
“Let Delhi tell us what they can give us: autonomy, self-rule or the Musharraf formula. There is no point in running away from Kashmir’s historical facts.”
The formula Rashid referred to was put forward by former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf in 2006. The four-point formula envisaged gradual withdrawal of troops; self-governance; no changes to the region’s borders, and a joint supervision mechanism.