The all-party team to Kashmir opened a window for de-escalating the situation in the Valley with some delegates on Monday visiting the homes of separatists who had boycotted the visit. The separatists though stuck to their stated positions on the issue.
Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and Gurudas Dasgupta led small groups of delegates to meet Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq while Lok Janashakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan led a group that met Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Yasin Malik.
This apparent “out-of-the-box thinking” by Yechury, Dasgupta and Paswan followed a consensus in the delegation on the flight from Delhi, and allowed the separatist leaders, all under house arrest, to begin a dialogue without losing face with their supporters.
Later, Dasgupta told HT: “A new beginning has been made and it will have a reasonable impact on the ground situation.”
Geelani — who met the Yechury-led group that included TR Baalu (DMK), Assaduddin Owaisi (Majlis-e-Ittihad-al-Muslimin), Ratan Singh Ajnala (Akali Dal) and Namo Nageshwar Rao (TDP) — however, stuck to his guns. “Normalcy will not return till India accepts the disputed status of Kashmir,” he said, reiterating his demands, which include the release of arrested stone-throwers and revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.
“The people of Kashmir are suffering and we will do anything to reach out to them,” Yechury said.
The Mirzwaiz met a delegation led by Gurudas Dasgupta (CPI) and comprising Shahid Siddiqui (BSP), Rajnidhi Prasad (RJD) and CM Chang (Nagaland People’s Front).
He, along with Malik, had earlier sent a memorandum saying they were ready for dialogue if Delhi committed itself to sustaining it, taking into account the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.
"The problem is there is no regard for the fact that people are losing their lives. Every time the people of Kashmir are on the streets, India says it’s Pakistan. Pakistanis are not dying in Kashmir, the common man is,” the Mirwaiz told Dasgupta. “Forget the separatists; talk to people on the ground. Meet the mothers who’ve lost their sons,” he added.
The delegation told the Mirwaiz the leadership in Delhi sympathises with every demand except the one for azadi.
"A few delegates coming to my house is not the same as meeting the full delegation,” the Mirwaiz later said.
The last meeting — of the group comprising Paswan, Basudeb Acharya (CPM), Parsun Kumar Parsani (BJD), Jose K Mani (Kerala Congress) and Narendra Kashyap (BSP) — was with Malik, who told his guests: “Delhi has to offer some concessions on the ground to get things under control.”
"It was an effort to hear them (separatists) out. We held discussions and stressed that normalcy should return. And discussions are the way out,” said Yechury.