Srinagar: The first attempt to reach out personally to Kashmiri separatists was made today by individual opposition members of parliament, who had gone to Kashmir as part of the all-party delegation. But at every place they were turned away.
- Initially, Hurriyat had rebuffed leaders of the all-party delegation
- Later Sitaram Yechury, D Raja and Sharad Yadav met Mirwaiz Umar Farooq
- Hurriyat has decided "not to talk anything tangible," Mr Yechury said
The leaders had decided to reach out after the Hurriyat rejected PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti's offer for talks, saying the onus was on them to give it a shot even if they were snubbed.
The most hostile reception was received by Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja and Sharad Yadav - who had gone to meet hardline separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who is under house arrest. As the three delegates reached his house at Srinagar's Hyderpora, they were greeted by anti-India slogans from Geelani's supporters and were denied entry.
Before that, the three leaders had gone to visit Yasin Malik at a local police station where he was lodged, but Mr Malik refused to talk to them.
Asaduddin Owaisi of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen reached the Chashm-e-Shahi guest house, where Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Shabir Shah have been detained. The Mirwaiz met him for a couple of minutes, but declined a dialogue, Mr Owaisi told NDTV. The Mirwaiz, he said, was "very upset about the whole situation". He said he had a slightly longer conversation with Mr Shah.
Later in the evening, Mr Yechury, Mr Raja and Mr Yadav went to meet the Mirwaiz. Mr Yechury said they had a conversation that lasted 15-20 minutes, but the Hurriyat leaders have taken a decision "not to talk of anything tangible". "We are hopeful that something positive will happen. Our signal to the people of Kashmir is that we have come here to share their pain. We have gone out of our way to meet the Hurriyat leaders," he added.
This morning, the Hurriyat had rejected Ms Mufti's invitation to join talks with the visiting delegation, which she had sent yesterday as the chief of the People's Democratic Party and not the state's chief minister.
But National Conference chief Omar Abdullah had criticized her efforts, saying the government should have released the separatist leaders from house arrest if she was serious about talks.
The all-party delegation, which reached Srinagar this morning, held separate meetings with Ms Mufti and Mr Abdullah's parties. Thereafter, through the day, they met the mainstream parties at the Sher-E-Kashmir auditorium.
"We intend to talk to individuals and groups who want peace and normalcy in Kashmir Valley," Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said before departure.
Turmoil has been raging in the Valley for the last 58 days, since the death of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani, in which nearly 70 people have died and nearly 10,000 have been injured.