All-party delegation to Kashmir: Opposition pitches for talks with Hurriyat, ban on pellet guns

New Delhi: Ahead of the visit of an all-party delegation to Jammu and Kashmir, political parties on Saturday pitched for holding dialogue with “all stakeholders”, including Hurriyat and banning the use of pellet guns by security forces.

After a meeting held by the government to brief the MPs who are part of the delegation, leaders from the Congress and the CPI(M) said all stakeholders should be approached during the two-day visit of the delegation to Jammu and Kashmir beginning Sunday.

“Government should invite Hurriyat for talks with the all-party delegation... The invitation extended to others should be given to Hurriyat also. It is up to them whether they want to meet the delegation,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

Mr. Yechury said government should make “tangible” announcement like a ban on pellet guns, withdrawal of AFSPA from civilian areas and rehabilitation and compensation package for those who lost their lives in the recent violence as a follow up of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement of taking peace initiative on the basis of InsaniyatJamhuriyat and Kashmiriyat.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said the UPA is open to holding dialogue with all stakeholders.

“We have said that the option of dialogue should be open to all stakeholders. Government should open the dialogue with all stakeholders. The Centre and the State government know who the stake holders are. They have to identify the stakeholders and invite,” he said in the presence of Tariq Anwar of the NCP, a UPA constituent.

Mr. Azad said the pellet guns should be replaced with less lethal options to control protesters in Kashmir Valley.

Prem Singh Chandumajra of Shiromani Akali Dal said the secular face of Jammu and Kashmir is being lost due to violence. “It needs a political framework. It is not merely a law and order issue.”

After the meeting, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is leading the delegation, said all members gave suggestions on the proposed visit.

He said the delegation will meet all representatives in Jammu and Kashmir.

After returning to Delhi on Monday night, the delegation would meet once again “and the government will take action based on their suggestions”, he said.

After the meeting, Mr. Yechury said that confidence building measures should be announced during the visit of the delegation.

Apart from the Home Minister and Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh, those who will be part of the all-party delegation include Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Mr. Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Ambika Soni (Congress), Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan (LJP), Sharad Yadav JD(U), Mr. Yechury (CPI(M) and D.Raja (CPI).

Mr. Anwar (NCP) and Saugata Roy (Trinamool Congress), Sanjay Raut and Anandrao Adsul (Shiv Sena), Thota Narasimham (TDP), Mr. Chandumajra (SAD), Dilip Tirkey (BJD), Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM), Badaruddin Ajmal (AIUDF) and E. Ahamed (Muslim League), Jitendra Reddy (TRS), N.K. Premchandran (RSP), P. Venugopal (AIADMK), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Y.B. Subba (YSRC), Jaiprakash Yadav (RJD), Dharamveer Gandhi (AAP) and Dushyant Chautala (RLD) are also part of the delegation.

The BSP and the Samajwadi Party have extended their support but haven’t nominated any of their members. PTI