September 2016 News

Separatists Spurn Talks Offer

4 September 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ehsan Fazili, Majid Jahangir and Azhar Qadri

Srinagar: New Delhi's bid to end the nearly two-month-long Kashmir unrest hit a roadblock today with key separatist leaders refusing to meet the all-party delegation that arrived here for talks, even as 250 persons were injured in fresh clashes. Four of the 28 members took upon themselves to reach out to the separatists, who have been leading the agitation. Sitaram Yechury (CPM), D Raja (CPI) and Sharad Yadav (JD-U) went to meet Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Yasin Malik. While Geelani is under house arrest, Yasin is lodged at Humhama. Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) went to meet Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, lodged in the Cheshmashi sub-jail. While Mirwaiz and Yasin refused to talk to the MPs, Geelani wouldn't let them in. A Hurriyat worker peeped through a window, asking Yechury to go. 'We will have a cup of tea,' Yechury pleaded, but to no avail. The MPs left amid anti-India slogans. 'We wanted to tell him we sympathised with the people of Kashmir, that we wanted unconditional talks with all stakeholders and that it was important that dialogue was initiated,' Yechury said, stressing any long-term solution 'will have to come through talks'. Yadav said the purpose of visiting Geelani's residence was to find a way to restore peace. 'Whether anyone will talk or not, we will continue to reach out.' The MPs then went to meet former Hurriyat chairman Abdul Gani Bhat and Shabir Ahmed Shah, but in vain. Owaisi met Mirwaiz but the latter refused to talk. 'He is upset over the killings. He said they decided not to meet anybody because the government was 'not serious' on holding a political dialogue,' Owaisi told mediapersons. Earlier in the day, CM Mehbooba Mufti briefed the delegation on the ground situation.