Kashmir unrest: Rajnath Singh meets CM Mehbooba Mufti as curfew continues in 5 districts

On the second day of his Kashmir visit on Sunday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh met political leaders even as curfew continued in some areas of the state.

He met Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and the council of ministers on Sunday. He also held a meeting with the CPI(M) delegation.

Curfew remained imposed in five districts of Kashmir and some parts of the summer capital. "Curfew is in force in four South Kashmir districts - Anantnag, Kulgam, Kupwara, Pulwama and Shopian and eight police station areas of Srinagar city as a precautionary measure," a police official said.

However, on Saturday, curfew was lifted from Bandipora, Baramulla, Budgam and Ganderbal districts and some parts of Srinagar city on Saturday soon after Singh reached Kashmir.

A delegation of the main opposition party, National Conference, met Singh on Sunday to convey their stand of initiating a sustained dialogue with Pakistan as well as the separatist groups of the state.

In a memorandum to the Home Minister, the NC expressed deep disappointment at the Centre's failure to recognise the problem in Kashmir "as a political problem which requires political engagement – both internally and externally."

A group of Muslim clerics also met Singh at the high-security Nehru Guest House. A delegation of Shikarawalas and houseboat owners also called on the Home Minister and apprised him of their problems.

However, two major representative trade bodies in the Valley, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) decided not to meet Singh. According to them, such exercises in the past have proved to be futile. The KEA, in an open letter to the Home Minister, said while they could understand the urgency for his visit to Kashmir for assessing the situation, "we also can easily determine the futility of this exercise."

KEA also accused union ministers of showing “arrogance and hostility” towards the people of the valley.

File image of Rajnath Singh. Reuters

File image of Rajnath Singh. Reuters

The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said it too has decided not to meet Singh during his visit as "no purpose will be served in attending any meeting when the killing of innocent people is unabated and scores of people continue to be injured in the pellet/bullet gun fire."

The MHA release said that on the first day of his visit to Srinagar, Singh met about 15 delegations including those of Sikh community, Kashmiri Pandits, youths, Tourism and Hospitality industry and entrepreneurs, besides several individuals.

The Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress also decided not to meet Singh, saying the PDP-BJP coalition government seems to be "interested in meetings only" and not in any people-friendly steps.

Singh, according to official sources, however, met some delegations including civil society members and leaders of some mainstream political parties. He also met top civil and security officials.

He also met the civil society delegation at Baramullah border area to review the law and order situation in Kashmir. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Aza, who initiated the debate in the Parliament over the Kashmir issue said on Sunday, "We only demand for all party meeting in Delhi. Curfew in Kashmir hasn't ended even after 16 days."

After the furore over the violence in Kashmir on the first day of the monsoon session of the Parliament, Singh had said that he would visit the state and stay in a guest house to talk to people from all walks of life.

This move by the Central government soon after the Parliament session began can be seen as much needed but calculated.

Singh’s visit might quell the protests in both houses of the Parliament so that important bills can be discussed and passed.
In an attempt to avoid Singh’s visit seem like a political step, “Singh ought to emphasise that the Centre backs Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti,” as David Devadas points out in this Firstpost piece. His conern must be the welfare, security, grief, medicial needs and provisions of Kashmiri people. He must also be watchful that he does not come across as overbearing.

With inputs from agencies.

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Updated Date: Jul 24, 2016 16:13:44 IST

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