For Left leaders, who were a part of an all-party team to look for ways to end the unrest in Kashmir valley and unsuccessfully tried to meet Hurriyat hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the attempt was not a failure.
They were a part of the 26-member delegation of politicians to the violence-hit valley where 73 people have died in clashes between security forces and protesters since the killing of a militant in July.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, D Raja of the CPI, Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav of the RJD from the delegation tried to meet and speak to separatist leaders on Sunday, but they met with a cold response.
Octogenarian Geelani turned back the politicians from the gates of his home, while former Hurriyat head Abdul Ghani Bhat, JKLF leader Yasin Malik, moderate separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabir Shah gave the team an audience.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury refused to admit that they have been snubbed by Geelani.
“How can you call it a snub? Out of the five top Hurriyat leaders, we could meet four. Everyone knows that the Hurriyat has two factions. We held talks with the moderate faction. Only the hardliner leader Geelani refused to meet us,” he said.
CPI leader D Raja, who went along with Yechury to Geelani’s house and came back from the closed door, maintained that one failure should not be construed as an end of efforts forever.
“This is one incident. It should not be set as precedence for future plans to meet the Hurriyat,” Raja said.
Sources maintained the flip of side Geelani’s refusal is that the all-party delegation could “expose” his unwillingness for talks to restore peace.
“Mirwaiz Omar Farooq said during our meeting that they have decided against discussing political issues as the Kashmir is still burning. I totally agreed with him. In Geelani’s case, we delivered the message to the Kashmiri people that a section in Indian political establishment feels their pain and wants to talk to you,” Yechury said.
Yechury, however, remained critical of the NDA government and alleged that the government did little “homework” before sending the team to the valley.
“They (the government) should have dug into the previous reports submitted by the 2010 all-party delegation and other task forces to decide the specific areas on which talks would be held. They did nothing. On the top of it, there were no interlocutors between the government and the Kashmiri people,” Yechury said.
In 2010, the all-party delegation could meet all Hurriyat leaders including Geelani and it helped to defuse the prevailing tension in the valley arising out of clashes between stone-pelters and the security forces.
Insisting on continuing political dialogue with the Kashmiri people and their leaders, Yechury took potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Modiji speaks about vishwas (trust) to handle the Kashmir issue. But vishwas can’t come from heaven. It has to be created through dialogues,” Yechury said.
On Monday, Union home minister Rajnath Singh said the behaviour of Kashmiri separatist leaders towards members of an all-party delegation that reached out to them over peace talks in the violence-hit region defied the spirit of “Kashmiriyat” and “insaniyat”.
The minister distanced himself from attempts of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and other leaders to persuade the separatists for talks. He was visibly disappointed with the opposition leaders’ attempt to go on their own to meet the separatist leaders.
“I want to clarify that some members of the delegation had gone to meet Hurriyat leaders yesterday in their individual capacity,” he told reporters before leaving Srinagar.
“Whatever information those friends gave us upon their return, it can be said it was not Kashmiriyat. It cannot be called insaniyat (humanity). When someone goes for talks and they reject it, it is not jamhooriyat (democracy) as well. We are ready to talk to everyone who wants peace,” he said.