The stalemate in Kashmir continues despite the visit of an all-party delegation to the restive Valley. At a press conference on Monday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh clarified that the government had neither approved nor disapproved of the decision of some of the leaders of the delegation to visit unwelcoming separatists.
This effectively meant that there was no official sanction to the visits of Sharad Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, Assadudin Owaisi and D Raja to Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik and Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
The Home Minister said the separatists, by refusing to meet some members of the delegation had made it clear that they don’t believe in “Insaniyat, Jamhooriyat and Kashmiriyat”. He also told the reporters that there were no two ways about the fact “that J&K is a part of India, was a part of India and will be a part of India”.
However, Rajnath Singh reiterated the government’s readiness to talk to everybody. “Baat-cheet kay liye hamara darwaaza hi nahin, hamara Roshan Daan bhi khulaa hai (Not only our doors, even our windows are also open for dialogue),” Singh said.
Meanwhile, separatists stuck to their traditional absolutist line on the engagement on Kashmir: talks outside the ambit of Constitution and the involvement of Pakistan. But New Delhi snorts at the idea of even extending an invite to them under the framework of constitution, leave alone agree to talk outside the constitution.
On all-party delegation’s visit, these two political positions played out predictably. Both parties wanted the other to blink and none did. Geelani took it too far. He didn’t open the gate as Yadav, D Raja and Yechury stood waiting outside his residence at Srinagar’s Hyderpora locality, forcing them to leave, amid Azadi slogans chanted by a small gathering of people.
Similarly, Malik who is in jail also turned away the three leaders and Mirwaiz refused to talk to Owaisi beyond the exchange of courtesies.
The all-party delegation was thus reduced to meeting delegations of ordinary people and individuals. According to a state government statement, the delegation met with 300 members in about 30 delegations from various sections of society to find a common solution for restoring peace in Jammu and Kashmir. Later, the delegation travelled to Jammu to hold talks with the stakeholders there.
And separatists by refusing to talk have also, in a way, driven themselves into a corner. Their only strategy so far has been to issue the weekly protest rosters comprising endless hartals and the protests. This is geared to force New Delhi to terms, which is not going to be the case. At the same time, they are not ready to talk unless their maximalist demands are met. This also is not likely to happen.
On the other hand, the unending shutdowns are taking a huge toll on Kashmir’s economy, which is soon going to make the extended protests unsustainable for the people. The mortifying toll of lives and the injuries is rising by the day. Now around 75 people have been killed in 59 days and around ten thousand have been wounded, several hundred of whom have lost their sight either in one or both the eyes.
So, the all-party delegation has, in effect changed little on the ground. The Kashmir situation remains basically where it began on July 8 when Hizbul commander Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter. New Delhi and separatists backed by Pakistan have not only stuck to their positions but also hardened them.
“This has only added to the fraught nature of the situation. Things are likely to get worse before they start improving,” says Waseem Parray, a post-graduate student, well versed with the developments so far. “So far, both sides have exhibited a lack of strategy and vision. This is not a good omen for Kashmir”.