NEW DELHI:A two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir by members of all major political parties to assess the ground situation began on Monday as Home Minister P Chidambaram assured the people of the state their honour, dignity and future are secure as part of India.
The visit by the all-party team, the first in two decades, hoped to help break the deadlock in the Valley, where violence has claimed over 100 lives in the past three months. The delegation's recommendations will be considered by the Cabinet Committee on Security of Kashmir later this week.
“We are here to listen to your views, we will give you a patient hearing, what you think we need to do, in order to bring to the people of Jammu & Kashmir, the hope and the belief that their honour and dignity and their future are secure as part of India,” Chidambaram, who led the 38-member delegation to the state, said.
Separatist leaders Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and SAS Geelani, who decided to stay away from the meeting, were put under house arrest.
Leader of main Opposition People’s Democratic Party, Mehbooba Mufti, also skipped the meeting but sent a 15-member delegation headed by PDP General Secretary Dilawar Meer to meet the delegation.
Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front leader Yasin Malik, who decided not to attend the meeting, sent a joint memorandum.
"It is a creative memorandum. Hope it is taken in the right spirit and that the delegation understands the pulse of the people," Malik said.
The 38-member team will spend two days in Srinagar and Jammu.
Bharatiya Janata Party leaders Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj, Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, DMK leader T R Baalu, LJP President Ram Vilas Paswan, JD-U chief Sharad Yadav, Indian Union Muslim League President E Ahamed are part of the delegation.
National Conference leader and state Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said the discontent within the people is because of so many unfulfilled promises by the government.
Meanwhile, state Congress chief Saifuddin Soz said dialogue was the only way forward and appealed to the delegation to reach out to the grieving people of Kashmir.
The PDP, which had earlier threatened to boycott the meet if the curfew was not lifted, said dialogue was impossible in the atmosphere of a siege in the Valley.
“How can you reach out to the protestors if curfew is not lifted,” PDP leader Nizamuddin Bhatt said.
Meanwhile, curfew remained clamped in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The death toll during violence and clashes in the last three months is now at 103.
Some members of the delegation are likely to call on hardline Hurriyat leader Sye Ali Shah Geelani at his Hyderpora residence here.
Though Geelani has officially refused to meet them, he said the delegation members will not be turned away if they decide to call on him at his house as they were guests. With PTI Inputs