Aiming to bring peace in Jammu and Kashmir, an all party delegation led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh landed in Srinagar today for a two-day visit to the state as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has invited separatist leaders to meet the delegation.
The delegation is expected to interact with a cross section of people.
"We intend to talk to individuals and groups who want peace and normalcy in Kashmir Valley," Singh said before the departure of delegation comprising 30 members from 20 parties.
Cutting across party lines, leaders said that they were hopeful of finding a solution for restoration of peace in the Valley where violent clashes have claimed 71 lives since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.
Senior Congress leader and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that the delegation was ready to hear "everyone".
The visit "will be beneficial for Kashmir and for the country," he said, adding everyone wants peace in the state.
Azad said it will be an opportunity for the parties and Kashmiri people to interact.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, another member of the team, said the all-party delegation should have gone two months ago "but let's hope that even now, we can make a difference".
LJP Chief and Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said that the MPs are going with an open mind and want to interact with anyone who wants to talk within the framework of the Indian Constitution. "We are ready to talk," he said.
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said all parties were cooperating with the government and their sole aim was restoration of normalcy in the state.
""We will try our best to bring back normalcy. We are cooperating with the government. It is the responsibility of the government to deal with the situation very intelligently.
"All parties are cooperating for that. So we hope that it will be resolved," he said.
On Saturday, Mehbooba wrote letters to the leaders in her capacity as PDP chief, requesting them to “take a lead and engage” with the delegation, “which will be the start of a credible and meaningful political dialogue and resolution process.”
"I write to you in my capacity as the President of the J&K Peoples Democratic Party and request you to take the lead and engage with the All Party Delegation of Parliamentarians visiting the state tomorrow,” she said.
"This will be the start of a credible and meaningful political dialogue and resolution process to end the stalemate," Mehbooba wrote in the letter addressed to the separatists' leaders, who are in custody.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is in the Cheshma Shahi sub-jail, Yasin Malik in an undisclosed prison, Shabir Shah in the Rajbagh Police Station and Syed Ali Shah Geelani under strict house arrest.
Mehbooba asked separatists to “indicate a time and place of your convenience for an exchange of ideas with the delegation”.
Yesterday, an interactive session to brief MPs, who will be part of the delegation, was held to make them aware of the prevailing situation in the state and contours of the tour during which they will hold talks with a cross-section of people.
Rajnath Singh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar, Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh and top officials made presentations at the meeting.
The prevailing ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir, positions and views of different stake holders, individuals and groups were conveyed to the parliamentarians.
The exercise was undertaken to ensure that all MPs speak in tandem and there is consensus among the lawmakers while speaking to a cross-section of people, aiming to bring peace in the state, sources said.
The meeting is expected to take note about possible individuals and groups with whom the delegation may interact during its two-day tour beginning tomorrow.
The source said the members of the delegation are free to meet anyone, including separatists.
However, Home Minister Rajnath Singh or any other central minister will meet only those who are ready to resolve all issues within the framework of the Constitution.
The delegation will interact with individuals and groups aiming to bring peace in the Valley, which has been facing unrest following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8.
Apart from the Home Minister and Jitendra Singh, those who will be part of the all-party delegation include Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, his Lok Sabha colleague Mallikarjun Kharge, senior Congress leader Ambika Soni, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP), JD-U leader Sharad Yadav, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury and CPI leader D Raja.
NCP's Tariq Anwar and Trinamool Congress' Saugata Roy, Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut and Anandrao Adsul, TDP's Thota Narasimham, Shiromani Akali Dal's Prem Singh Chandumajra, BJD's Dilip Tirkey, AIMIM's Asaduddin Owaisi, AIUDF's Badaruddin Ajmal and Muslim League's E Ahamed will be party of the delegation.
TRS' Jitendra Reddy, N K Premchandran (RSP), P Venugopal (AIADMK), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Y B Subba (YSR-Cong), Jaiprakash Yadav (RJD), Dharamveer Gandhi (AAP) and Dushyant Chautala (RLD) are also in the team.
BSP and Samajwadi Party have extended their support but have not been able to nominate any of their members.
Meanwhile, curfew-like restrictions remained in force in rest of Kashmir even as normal life remained paralysed for the 58th day. Early morning, protesters set an under construction building of mini secretariat in Shopian on fire.
A youth was yesterday killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in Qazigund area of South Kashmir taking the death toll in the ongoing unrest to 71.
Two police personnel are among those killed while several thousand others have been injured in the clashes between protesters and security forces in the Valley since Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter in south Kashmir on July 8.