Shuttling between Kashmir and New Delhi, Prof Mattoo on ‘mission salvage’

Srinagar: Even as Kashmir unrest has entered forth month and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party led coalition struggles to restore law-and-order, Chief Minister’s Advisor, Prof Amitabh Mattoo continues to shuttle between New Delhi and the Valley, in a bid to strengthen her government, overtly or covertly.

The top brass in New Delhi, close to Matto, said he has been on “mission salvage”, trying to strengthen the state government, otherwise losing control on situation since July 8, when militant commander  Burhan Muzaffar Wani and his two colleagues were killed.

Sources said apart from being in constant touch with the Prime Minister’s Office in the national capital, Prof Mattoo has been lobbying in the civil society circles in New Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, alike. He travelled these places, over a dozen times in the last three months.

Sources said after having held another fruitful session of talks with some well-meaning voices in Delhi, he is returning to Kashmir this weekend, for expected discussions with some stakeholders, mainly beyond government.

It was reliably learnt that before shifting of the Durbar offices to Jammu, Prof Mattoo plans to strengthen government connectivity with grassroots in Kashmir, the relation he wants to bank on for the next six months, when the seat of governance vis-a -is focus shifts to the winter capital.

If insiders in the government are to be believed, Prof Mattoo, a Professor of Disarmament Studies at the Center for International Politics at JNU, will hold deliberations with some prominent civil society faces and also a section of the “agitated youth.”

Mattoo, who exceptionally volunteered to visit government hospitals here at the start of “worst ever humanitarian crises” is understood to been in touch with some of the affected people since. “Apart from doctors, he had cultivated contacts with some of the wounded, their attendants, and the good samaritans all of whom have been holding good equation with him since… With public tempers having cooled over the months, this relationship is likely to give desired results, likely to take Kashmir towards stability,” said a senior police official asking to be named.

The official said Prof Matoo personally remained so skilled in tackling protesters during the “peak of unrest” that he even visited some volatile old City areas to explore contacts, whereas not a “single stone was ever pelted on his cavalcade anywhere.” The former VC of Jammu University, however, has been avoiding media interactions, much the way others in the PDP-led government do.

Seen as an astute manager of backchannel diplomacies, Mattoo who co-chairs the Chaophraya Track II Dialogue between India and Pakistan looks ahead at “resumption of track II diplomacy to break the stalemate in the restive Valley.”

Home department sources said his visits to Kashmir this month would be of “critical importance.”

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