Sinha Returns to Valley, Greeted With Azadi Slogans


Srinagar—Once snubbed by BJP government at centre, Delhi based Concerned Citizens Group (CCG), led by former union finance minister Yashwant Sinha arrived here on a “Peace Mission” again on Thursday.

Sinha had arrived a day early while rest of his team mates reached Srinagar Thursday morning.

The delegation led by Sinha began their day by driving to the residence of National Conference working president and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in the morning.

Sinha had already met Omar’s father and NC patriarch Farooq Abdullah on Wednesday evening.

Later Sinha said that the team comprising of Kapil Kak, a former air vice martial, Bharat Bhushan, senior journalist, and Sushobha Barve, head of Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation are in Kashmir as part of a ‘peace mission’.

“Our meetings are the continuation of peace mission that we had started last year,” Sinha told reporters.

He said that the meeting with Omar lasted for an hour in which the prevailing situation was discussed. “And we also discussed what the policy and attitude of the government should be for peace in the state,” he said.

An NC spokesman said both Omar and Farooq told the visiting delegation that open-ended and comprehensive dialogue was the only way forward to ensure peace and reconciliation in the State and also reiterated party’s stand on Article 35-A and the State’s Special Status.

Talking to reporters after meeting Omar, Sinha said the delegation has visited twice Kashmir on a peace mission.

“We have again come here on peace mission and would meet people of different shades to have first hand information of the situation in Valley,” The group then travelled to Kupwara to attend a seminar on ‘Modern Education and Moral Values’ at Government Degree College there.

The group plans to meet other political leaders, youth and civil society activists on Friday.

Sinha said that dialogue is the only way out for resolution of the Kashmir issue and the same has been promised by the PDP and BJP government in their Agenda of Alliance.

The group had last year visited the Valley amid 4-month long uprising to assess the situation and persuade the BJP-led government in New Delhi to hold dialogue with Hurriyat and other stakeholders in the state for political resolution of the issue.

The group had met Hurriyat leaders and mainstream political parties and civil society in the Valley when they had first arrived in October last year during height of agitation.

However, Sinha did not disclose if they are meeting with the Hurriyat leaders this time. “We are meeting a lot of people,” he said.

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech in which he said “bullets and abuses won’t solve Kashmir problem”, Sinha said it has given a hope that things would be better now.

The Sinha-led group had visited Kashmir in October last year when Valley was in the grip of unrest following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8, 2016.

After the two visits, group released its report in January this year in which they had recommended talks with Hurriyat and asked the government to improve human rights situation, resuscitate democratic linkages between people and allow Kashmiris to assemble and meet to hold discussions.

However there had been no word from centre and the impression here was that the Modi led government had snubbed Sinha, a veteran BJP leader from Vajpayee era.

Sinha greeted with Azadi slogans

Students raised pro-Azadi slogans when former Union minister Yashwant Sinha led group, which is on two day visit to Kashmir valley, reached Degree College Kupwara.

According to news agency GNS, the Yashwant Sinha led team arrived in Degree College Kupwara at 2:20 pm and asked principal to arrange meeting with students in college’s auditorium hall. The students later assembled in the hall and a heated debate generated between the two sides.

On the occasion, Sinha said he has not come here as government representative. “I have come here to take forward your viewpoint”. While he was speaking, the students were interrupting him with pro-Azadi slogans.

Sinha said that gun is no solution to any issue and only dialogue is lone way out to resolve issues. As he concluded his speech, the students shouted pro-freedom slogans. After intense sloganeering in favour of Azadi, Sinha and his team members left the college.

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