As violence in Jammu and Kashmir showed no signs of abating for the 32nd day on Monday, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti met Home Minister Rajnath Singh here, seeking the resumption of dialogue with all stakeholders — including the separatists — that was initiated by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee about a decade ago. The meeting, which continued for almost two hours, was called by Mr. Singh to review the situation in the State. It was attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, National Security Adviser A.K. Doval and other senior officials of Home, Defence and Finance ministries.
Sources privy to the meeting told the Media that Ms. Mufti also demanded that an all-party delegation soon visit the Valley to reverse the growing “alienation" between Kashmir and India. After the meeting, Ms. Mufti told reporters outside North Block that she is “hopeful that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take this as an opportunity to initiate dialogue with the people in Jammu and Kashmir to address their problems." “There is a need to take the same initiative of winning the hearts of the people which was taken during [Atal Bihari] Vajpayeeji's tenure," she said.
Ms. Mufti reportedly told Mr. Singh that even while initiating the dialogue process the Centre must ensure that “the cycle of violence goes down". At the meeting called by Mr. Singh to review the situation in Kashmir, she said: “I believe there is a need to heal the wounds of the people. These are our own people. If the process of dialogue with the J&K people can improve the situation in the Valley, we should do it."
Ms. Mufti also brought up the issue of pellet guns, and asked the Home Minister to ensure that only non-lethal weapons were used. Prior to the meeting, the Opposition criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “maintaining silence" on the Kashmir issue. This is likely to push him to address it in his Independence Day speech.
During Zero Hour, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded a statement from the Prime Minister, and enquired about the steps being taken by the government to restore normality in the Valley. “We want to awaken the government ...We feel the government and the Prime Minister are watching the situation deteriorate like a silent spectator," Mr. Azad said. Describing the use of pellet guns as “inhuman" and “criminal," senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said that except the armed forces, the entire state machinery had come to a halt in the Valley. “More than 1,000 incidents of firing have happened. More than 8,000 are injured and 60 dead," he said.
Schemes reviewed:- In Srinagar, Ms. Mufti reviewed the implementation of various social security schemes, including Atal Pension Yojana (APY), Aasra, Laadli Beti and widow or old age pension scheme in the State. “Through various social security schemes, the government wants to create a social security network for the underprivileged and the weaker sections of the society in the State. There is a need for generating greater awareness among the masses about the scheme and facilitating them to join them," she said.