Rajnath in Valley, says available for talks

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Rajnath in JammuHome minister Rajnath Singh while on a two-day visit to Kashmir to take stock of the prevailing situation and to try and find ways to start a political engagement to address the current crisis which has so far consumed around 70 people and partially or completely blinded around 200.

Just after landing in Kashmir,  Singh sent out a tweet calling on almost everybody to meet him.  “I will be staying at the Nehru Guest House. Those who believe in Kashmiriyat, Insaniyat and Jamhooriyat are welcome,” the tweet read.

Singh will hold talks with the government and opposition leaders besides the civil society delegations. There will also be a meeting with the state’s security top brass.

However, there has so far been no outreach to the separatist groups leading the current unrest in the state.

Chairman of the moderate Hurriyat faction Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has said that for any talks on the resolution of Kashmir, centre will have to talk to Pakistan also.

“All stakeholders, including Pakistan, should be included in any proposed talks over the Kashmir issue,” Mirwaiz said.

The home minister’s visit has come in the wake of the meeting of the J&K Opposition delegation led by Omar Abdullah with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.  The PM called for a dialogue to “find a permanent and lasting solution to the problem in Jammu and Kashmir  within the framework of the Constitution”.   He also expressed “deep concern and pain” over the situation in Kashmir and agreed there was a  need for a dialogue.

However, signals from the central government haven’t so far been encouraging enough.  PM’s belated expression of pain and a promise of the dialogue notwithstanding. Centre hasn’t announced as to what form the engagement with Kashmir, if any, will take and whether there is a plan to rope in Hurriyat. As of now, New Delhi has yet to express any desire for dialogue with separatists.

The home minister’s visit, therefore, assumes crucial significance.  His engagements in Valley over two days and their likely outcome will be keenly watched for New Delhi’s evolving approach to the deepening turmoil in Kashmir.