March 2018 News

Interlocutor In Bandipora, Begins 7th Visit To Kashmir

27 March 2018
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Samaan Lateef

Srinagar: The first day of the four-day visit of New Delhi's special representative for Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma on Tuesday witnessed protests as well as sharp criticism from the Congress. Soon after Sharma landed at the Srinagar airport, he went directly to north Kashmir's Bandipora district to meet various delegations, comprising mostly political workers. Ahead of Sharma's visit, the meeting venue was rocked by protests in which two employees of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) were injured. The district administration had kept the meeting venue at the NHPC office. The police personnel deployed in the NHPC office for the security of Sharma didn't allow the corporation employees to go inside. The police restrictions irked the employees, who fought with the security forces to force their entry. The employees were later joined by locals, who resorted to 'anti-India and pro-freedom slogans'. The police had to resort to lathicharge to disperse the protesters. Officials said two persons were injured in the police action. The situation was peaceful when Sharma reached the venue around 1 pm. Officials said Sharma met 17 delegations, which comprised mostly mainstream political activists. Like other trade bodies, the Traders Federation of Bandipora refused to meet Sharma, saying they had no mandate to talk on political issues and advised him to talk to the separatist leadership. Local Congress legislator Usman Majid said Sharma's visit to Kashmir was a futile and meaningless exercise. 'The government interlocutor has to seek political opinion on the Kashmir issue but he (Sharma) is discussing local civil issues like drains, lanes and health centres,' Majid said. Usman said the appointment of Sharma was an alternative governing process initiated by the Central government as the PDP-BJP government had failed on all fronts. After taking up the assignment of being the Centre's special representative, Sharma is on the seventh visit to Kashmir in the past five months. In his previous visits, he met mainstream leaders and students but has not been able to meet separatist leaders. Separatists term his appointment as a 'time-buying tactic' adopted by New Delhi under pressure from international community. Ahead of Sharma's visit, the meeting venue was rocked by protests in which two NHPC employees were injured. The district administration had kept the meeting venue at the NHPC office. The police restrictions irked the employees, who fought with the security forces to force their entry. The employees were later joined by locals, who resorted to 'anti-India and pro-freedom slogans'. Local Congress legislator Usman Majid said interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma's visit to Kashmir was a futile and meaningless exercise. 'The government interlocutor has to seek political opinion on the Kashmir issue but he (Sharma) is discussing local civil issues like drains, lanes and health centres,' Majid said.

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