Centre's point man begins second visit on 'Mission Kashmir'

Centre's point man begins second visit on 'Mission Kashmir'

The Centre's special representative to Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, on Friday began his second visit to the state  from Jammu, where he called on Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and discussed ways and means of reaching out to various stakeholders.

Sharma, who is on a six-day tour, later visited Jagti township where he met several delegations of displaced Kashmiri Pandit community. He is scheduled to meet various other delegations on Saturday.

The Centre's new point man for Kashmir will visit the valley on Sunday, where he is likely to meet students and also visit parts of south Kashmir, the hub of home-grown militancy and last year's unrest. According to officials, high point of Sharma's visit will be his interaction with youth and students in Pulwama and Anantnag.

Ahead of his second visit, J&K government on Thursday announced withdrawal of around 4,500 FIRs against first-time stone-pelters, a move which can generate goodwill for the Centre's interlocutor. The decision came on the recommendation of Sharma, who had earlier visited the Valley from November 6-8.

He was flooded with requests from various individuals and groups for withdrawing cases against youths booked by the police for indulging in stone pelting. "Some of the issues raised during my first visit have already been solved. My effort is to solve the other issues and problems as well," Sharma told reporters.

Sharma, a former director of Intelligence Bureau, was appointed 'special representative' to Kashmir by the Centre on October 23 to hold talks with all stakeholders, including separatists, in an effort to find lasting peace in the region.

The biggest challenge for Sharma, who had served in the state with the IB between 1992-94 when militancy was at its peak, remains breaking the ice with separatist leaders, who have categorically refused to meet him.

Hurriyat rejects

While the state government is trying hard to facilitate a meeting between Sharma and separatist leaders, moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq rejected the offer.

"If the government is serious and sincere and there is really a change of heart and approach, then all political prisoners should be immediately released and their freedom restored," he said, addressing a Friday congregation at historic Jamia Masjid in old city Srinagar.

Mirwaiz, who along with hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani and pro-independence JKLF chief Yasin Malik has formed 'Joint Resistance Leadership', said talks and harassment cannot go together. "Kashmir has been turned into a battlefield. Human rights violations are at its peak. Government forces have adopted pick and choose policy to kill and target Kashmiri youth. Our youths are being killed under a well-executed conspiracy," he alleged.

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