A day after an all-party delegation led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh held talks with Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti in Srinagar, the Union minister briefed the media.
"The country's largest panchayat is the Parliament. And these are the representatives of that panchayat," Singh began the media interaction recapping the fact that an all-party delegation had arrived in Srinagar on Sunday. He noted that the delegation had held meetings with a variety of students, intellectuals, state officials and other members of society.
"Everybody wants the situation in Kashmir to improve," he said, adding, "There is no doubt that Jammu and Kashmir is, has and will be an integral part of India.
The home minister alluded to the fact that members of the delegation had sought meetings with members of the Hurriyat Conference, without much success, and dubbed the behaviour of the separatists as not being consistent with Kashmiriyat, insaaniyat or jamhooriyat. Interestingly, he neither confirmed nor denied whether the Opposition leaders who had gone to speak to the Hurriyat had been given permission to do so.
"We are willing to speak with anyone who wants piece in Kashmir and the Centre and state are working to alleviate the situation here."
"When I had come here on 24 and 25 July," continued Singh, "People complained to me about the pellet guns. I had then said that I was instituting a committee to decide on an alternative in two months. It's not even been two months and the suggestion of non-lethal PAVA shells has emerged. I believe those won't cause any deaths or injure to people."
"Discussions with delegations overall have been positive, and I appeal to the press to bear in mind that the goings-on in Kashmir are a concern to us all, and we need to support of everyone to overcome them," he signed off.
In answer to questions from the media regarding the efforts of delegation members to meet the Hurriyat, Singh said, "I had maintained from the start that we were willing to speak to everyone."
When asked about whether the home minister would speak to Pakistan about the issue, Singh said, "Let's first speak to those in the country."
The 26-member all-party delegation was expected to interact with a cross-section of people with a view to restore peace in the strife-hit Valley, but was notably snubbed by members of the separatist Hurriyat Conference. Initially, the delegation was proposed to comprise 29 MPs, but only 26 of them made the visit.
With inputs from PTI