August 2016 News

Rajnath Singh To Visit J&K Again, But Observers See Little Success

23 August 2016
Manan Kumar

New Delhi: Eager to outpace the Kashmir turbulence by showing concern to the distraught public, Union home minister Rajnath Singh is visiting the valley yet again for two days. Through this visit, which comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's significant statement expressing 'deep concern and pain' at the prevailing situation in Kashmir and an appeal for a dialogue, the Centre is hopeful of at least initiating the process of political outreach that has so far eluded it. However, Kashmir observers within the government have little hopes from the visit, which they think is ill-timed unless the home minister comes out with a significant announcement like the ban of pellet guns. Pending a big announcement, chances are that his reception may elicit lukewarm response, much below the expectations he generated during his earlier visit in July, said sources. The possibility of any meeting with Hurriyat leaders is not possible after the Prime Minister's clear message of finding a permanent and lasting solution to the problem within the framework of the Constitution, they said. Before planning his sudden visit, Singh had met people from the civil society, including some Kashmiri scholars, on two consecutive days to discuss ways to tackle the vexed issue. Nearly all had suggested him to completely ban pellet guns. A couple of days ago, Singh had also sought to apply a healing touch by saying that 'I want to tell the people of Kashmir that we not only love the land of Kashmir but also its people.' The news so far from Kashmir, however, is not so encouraging for Singh as organisations like the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, Kashmir Economic Alliance, Writers' Association, Kashmir High Court Bar Association and Fruit Growers' Association have already shown disinterest in meeting the home minister. To give the home minister's visit a semblance of achieving something, J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti's office is working overtime to cajole and coax organisations to meet him. 'The response so far is feeble,'said sources. Unable to spell out Singh's itinerary in Srinagar, ministry sources said that the visit is an extension of his earlier July visit when the home minister had clearly said that he would keep coming to the state. Besides meeting Mehbooba Mufti, governor N N Vohra and top officials from the civil administration, he is also expected to review the overall security situation in Kashmir that is showing signs of further deterioration amid resignations by state police personnel.