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Kashmir's future secure with India: Chidambaram

Last updated on: September 20, 2010 13:43 IST

On a mission to understand the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the all party delegation on Monday began its two-day exercise with Home Minister P Chidambaram promising the people of the state that their future, honour and dignity are secure as part of India.

Main opposition Peoples Democratic Party leader Mehbooba Mufti and separatist leaders, including Syeed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, decided not to meet the delegation.

While a 15 member-strong PDP delegation would meet the all party leaders and explained the party's stand, but some of the separatists factions would be giving memorandum to the team.

Flanked by leaders of different political parties and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Chidambaram said the delegation would like to hear the grievances of the people.

"We hope and believe that the honour, dignity and future (of Kashmiris) are secure as part of India," he said.

Chidambaram said the delegation has a tight schedule and asked the parties appearing before them to make their presentation effectively.

The 42-member team, which arrived in Srinagar on a crucial two-day visit to assess the ground situation, was received by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, as curfew remained clamped in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

The death toll during violence and clashes in the last three months is now at 103. Asked whether her decision not to meet the delegation was a symbolic protests, Mehbooba said she did not believe in symbolism but was sending a strong delegation to put forth her party's point of view.

She said her views were well known as she had attended the all party meeting in Delhi last week and that her party's senior leaders should have a chance to make their presentation.

Mehbooba also accused the ruling NC of trying to hijack the all party delegation.

Moderate Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF will skip meeting the team but will submit a memorandum to it, JKLF chief Yasin Malik said.

"It is a creative memorandum. Hope it is taken in the right spirit and that the delegation understands the pulse of the people," Malik said.

Some members of the delegation are likely to call on hardline Hurriyat leader Sye Ali Shah Geelani at his Hyderpora residence here. Though Geelani has officially refused to meet them, he said the delegation members will not be turned away if they decide to call on him at his house as they were guests.

A strict curfew is in force in the entire Kashmir valley and thousands of police and paramilitary CRPF troopers have been deployed to enforce it in capital Srinagar and other towns.

No movement is being allowed in the capital city. A 25-year old woman was killed when security forces opened fire to quell a stone pelting mob in the Nathipora village near north Kashmir Sopore town on Sunday evening.

State Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said granting autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir was the key to the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

He claimed that alienation of the people of the state has been increased but no step is being taken to bridge the gap. Rather also criticised those demanding abolition of Article 370 of the Constitution (granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir), saying, "They were living in a fools' paradise".

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee chief Saifuddin Soz said there was a need to find an 'unconventional' solution to the Kashmir issue and he would push for a consensus for it.

"We have to find out ways...," he said. Yasin Malik said they decided not to meet the delegation as curfew has been imposed in Kashmir for the last four months and people were suffering but simultaneously wanted to send a creative message in the form of sending a memorandum.

Mehbooba said her party was upset with the state government as the common people could hardly move out of their houses. She also accused the ruling NC of 'arranging' their own people for making presentations before the delegation and even children of NC workers as students to meet the delegation.

"So it is going to be PDP's view points and NC's view points. The independent view point is not going to come there," she said.

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