The all-party delegation to Jammu & Kashmir will meet on Monday in Delhi to draw up its report for the Prime Minister charting a broad roadmap to bridge the divide between the two regions of the state.
But Home Minister Shivraj Patil made it clear that it would not be possible to find a solution in a day or two. There are issues on which a decision is possible in the short term, others where it might take longer, he said.
Patil, who led Delhi’s first peace mission to Jammu that has seen more than 11,000 demonstrations in 40 days, said he believed there was greater understanding and goodwill after the meetings.
Arun Jaitley — who represented the BJP in the 17-member delegation — agreed dialogue was the only way to resolve the crisis but complained the Centre had taken far too long to intervene.
Patil has reassured Kashmiris that there was no economic blockade by Jammu or Punjab and asked fruit growers and transporters to abandon their march on the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Road on Monday. Parties like the PDP and the Hurriyat Conference have played on Kashmir’s fear psychosis of being choked if the only highway linking Srinagar to the rest of the country was blocked.
If farmers still suffer losses, Patil has promised the government would look at compensating them or getting government agencies to buy their produce.
Soon after Patil remark, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti — also part of the Central team — said her workers led by senior leaders would participate in the march.
Patil refused to react to reports on LK Advani’s call to make the land row a national issue but emphasised it was “the intention of all right thinking people to see that there is no communal divide”.