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J-K interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma visits Pulwama, meets several delegations

Pulwama was the epicentre of unrest following the encounter killing of Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy Burhan Wani on July 8 last year.

india Updated: Nov 27, 2017 09:17 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Toufiq Rashid
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Dineshwar Sharma,Dineshwar Sharma in Kashmir,Kashmir militancy
The Centre's special representative for Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, during his visit in Jammu on November 25.(HT Photo)

Centre’s special envoy on Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma on Sunday visited South Kashmir’s Pulwama area, the ground zero of the last year’s unrest in the state in which more than 100 civilians were killed.

The 61-year-old former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief met cross sections of people, mostly youth in a bid to create a conducive atmosphere for sustained dialogue to end decades-old militancy in the state.

``Most of the people I met said they want peace,’’ he told HT on his way back from Pulwama.

Sharma met around 12 delegations, including an all-girl team, comprising youth and students from the area, a state government official said. He is likely to visit Anantnag on Monday to hold similar deliberations.

He was appointed special representative in October by Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre to carry forward a dialogue with all sections of the people in the restive Jammu and Kashmir.

Some of the youth delegations Sharma met, requested him for an early and impartial probe into the arrest of photojournalist Kamran Yousuf by NIA, the official said.

The delegations also highlighted that the national media, especially electronic media, was portraying Kashmir in bad light and urged him to ensure immediate end to this biased coverage.

Some of the groups also claimed excesses by the security forces.

Earlier, the Centre’s special envoy on Kashmir, visited Kashmiri Pandit camps in Jammu. He visited Jagti area, the largest township of the displaced Kashmiri Pandits and met people to understand their problems.

Around 60,000 Kashmiri Pandit families migrated in 1990 after the onset of militancy. Of these, 39,000 families based themselves in various camps in Jammu.

Sharma’s interactions with youths and students in Pulwama is considered as a high point of his visit to the Valley.

The visit to South Kashmir is crucial as the region’s four districts saw widespread protests after killing of a local militant commander Burhan Wani.

Wani was a native of Tral in South Kashmir.

Sharma had started his second visit on a high note after state chief minister Mehbooba Mufti announced the launch of the Centre’s amnesty for first-time “offenders of stone pelting” last week. The move could see police drop charges against an estimated 4,500 people, most of them youngsters.

While making the announcement, the chief minister said the step was taken following Sharma’s recommendations.

Mufti praised Sharma, saying he has started on a “positive note”.

“This confidence-building measure reaffirms the Central government’s commitment towards changing the narrative in J&K & creating a re-conciliatory atmosphere for sustained dialogue,” Mufti had then said in a tweet.

The initiative is a ray of hope for these young boys and their families, she had said, adding that it will “provide them an opportunity to rebuild their lives”.

During his maiden visit to the valley, most of the trade and tourism bodies and civil society groups had refused to meet Sharma.

(With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Nov 26, 2017 17:33 IST