Need to change and think afresh, Srinagar tells all-party team

Written by Political Bureau | Srinagar | Updated: Sep 21 2010, 06:20am hrs
On a mission to understand the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the all-party delegation on Monday began its two-day exercise with Union home minister P Chidambaram promising the people of the state that their future, honour and dignity are secure as part of India. And the unanimous message the delegation got from those it met was that status quo cannot be an option in the Valley.

Flanked by leaders of different political parties and chief minister Omar Abdullah, Chidambaram said the delegation would like to hear public grievances.

We hope and believe that the honour, dignity and future (of Kashmiris) are secure as part of India, he said. Chidambaram said the delegation has a tight schedule and asked the parties appearing before them to make their presentation effectively.

The 42-member team was received by chief minister Omar Abdullah, as curfew remained clamped in Srinagar. The death toll during violence and clashes in the last three months is now 103.

Asked whether her decision not to meet the delegation was a symbolic protest, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti said she did not believe in symbolism but had sent a strong delegation to put forth her partys point of view.

Her senior colleague Nizamuddin Bhatt who met the delegation told reporters that although we were given just 15 minutes to put our point, we have told them that all suggestions from the mainstream or separatist quarters should be considered.

He said that party renewed its demand for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and unconditional dialogue with all sections of people.

Moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF will skip meeting the team but will submit a memorandum to it, JKLF chief Yasin Malik said.