August 2017 News

Senior BJP Leader Yashwant Sinha-led Team In Kashmir On Peace Mission

17 August 2017
The New Indian Express
Fayaz Wani

Srinagar: The civil society group - Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) - led by senior BJP leader and former union finance minister Yashwant Sinha arrived here on 'Peace Mission' and would be meeting mainstream leaders, civil society members and separatists. Sinha and some members of his delegation had arrived here yesterday while some others arrived today. The delegation led by Sinha met opposition National Conference working president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at his residence, here this morning. During the meeting, Omar briefed the delegation about the prevailing situation in the Valley. He informed the visiting delegation that situation in Valley is still not normal and civilian killings continue to take place, sources said. Sinha had last night met former Chief Minister and NC president Farooq Abdullah. NC spokesman said both Omar and Farooq told the visiting delegation that open-ended and comprehensive dialogue was the only way forward to ensure peace and reconciliation in the State and also reiterated party's stand on Article 35-A and the State's Special Status. Talking to reporters after meeting Omar, Sinha said the delegation has visited twice Kashmir on a peace mission. 'We have again come here on peace mission and would meet people of different shades to have first hand information of the situation in Valley,' he said. Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech in which he said 'bullets and abuses won't solve Kashmir problem', Sinha said it has given a hope that things would be better now. The PM's statement was welcomed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, opposition National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Sinha termed the delegation's visit to Kashmir as 'Peace Mission'. 'We are on a peace mission and will try to meet and talk to everybody,' he said adding, 'We want bloodshed should end, peace should be restored in the State and everybody should work for development of J&K.' The Sinha-led delegation would be meeting Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and leaders of other political parties including representatives of ruling PDP and civil society members. Sources said there is the likelihood that the delegation may meet moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq at his Nageen residence, where he is under house arrest. 'The delegation may also visit Geelani, who is undergoing treatment in a hospital,' they said. 87-year-old Geelani was admitted to hospital in Srinagar on Sunday after he complained of abdominal cramps, dehydration and generalized weakness. The Sinha-led group had visited Kashmir in October last year when Valley was in the grip of unrest following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8, 2016. The group had met mainstream and separatist leaders, civil society members and during the visit. It again visited the Valley in December. After the two visits, Sinha-led team released Kashmir report in January this year in which he had recommended talks with Hurriyat and asked the government to improve human rights situation, resuscitate democratic linkages between people and allow Kashmiris to assemble and meet to hold discussions.

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