October 2016 News
Sinha Team Meets Geelani Again, Voices Alarm Over Study Loss27 October 2016
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Srinagar: The five-member delegation led by the former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha concluded its three-day visit to Kashmir on Thursday after successfully breaking the logjam over talks with separatists. Before leaving for New Delhi, the delegation revisited hardline separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani again for 'some clarification' on Thursday and took up the issue of reopening of educational institutions, which have been shut for the past 111 days due to the ongoing unrest. The delegates told Geelani that they were 'concerned about the students of Kashmir and their academic year should not be lost to the ongoing protests.' Geelani, however, stuck to his demand that the government should withdraw cases against students and release them. 'Examinations can be deferred so that students can get time to prepare and prove their worth on their own,' Geelani said, making it clear that separatists were not in favour of opening schools till the situation was normal. The three members who met Geelani included Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak (retd), veteran journalist Bharat Bhushan and executive director of the New Delhi-based Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation Sushobha Barve. 'We had a word with Geelani Saheb to clarify certain things which had caused some confusion,' said the retired Air Vice Marshal. In a major breakthrough, the delegation held 'talks in a positive atmosphere' with senior separatist leaders, including Geelani, on Tuesday after a failed attempt by members of the all-party delegation led by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on September 4. Geelani, who is under house arrest, said talks with New Delhi would continue only after the government withdrew cases against separatists and students and released them. The five-member delegation, including former Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibuillah left for New Delhi this evening after meeting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Governor NN Vohra. The visit was aimed at breaking the ice between separatist groups and New Delhi and pave the way for dialogue as Kashmir is still reeling under tension due to the ongoing unrest.