In an effort to resume dialogue with the stakeholders in Kashmir, five-member delegation led by veteran Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday called on moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and discussed ways to calm down the protestors. The delegation reached at the Nigeen residence of Mirwaiz at 10.30 a.m. to discuss the prevailing situation in the Valley and the necessary steps to be initiated for bringing peace in Kashmir, which has been marred by violent protests since July 2016.
Considering the situation very critical where students and youth have joined the protests, Aiyar insisted that the Central Government should hold dialogue with all the stakeholders in Kashmir as it would bring enduring solutions by bringing peace in the Valley as well as reduce tensions between India and Pakistan.
The five member delegation that includes O.P. Shah, Air Vice Marshal (retd.) Kapil Kak and Vinod Sharma, are likely to meet hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Aiyar also showed his willingness to meet the pro-independence JKLF chief Yasin Malik, but he refused to meet the delegation.
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The meetings with Hurriyat leaders assume significance after the group insisted that the Central Government should hold talks with Pakistan including separatists for resolution of the Kashmir issue.
The delegation participated in a seminar organised by an NGO, Peace and Progress, where they proposed that government of India should talk to Kashmiri people including gunmen, protesters, stone pelters and should take the support from academics, clerics to calm down the unrest.
It is pertinent to mention that a five-member delegation led by former external affairs minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha met Kashmiri hardliner Geelani in 2016 to break the ice between the centre and the Hurriyat leadership. But Geelani demanded release of all youth and separatist leaders as a pre-condition for talks.
The delegation stressed that Central Government must interact with Kashmiri people and assuage the feelings of the protesters to find a solution for the progress and development of the state.