Meeting with separatists weakened Centre's position: BJP

"In normal circumstances, the Mirwaiz and Geelani are only Friday speakers. But two things provide them oxygen -- when there is unrest among the people which leads to situation where violence takes place and secondly, when one talks to separatists," a senior BJP leader said.

BJP feels the decision of CPM leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta and LJP Chief Ramvilas Paswan to visit the Mirwaiz and Geelani was like the "Mohammad coming to the mountain".

"Geelani had the last laugh due to this. And their visit makes the distant dream of azadi appear to be a realisable reality," the BJP leader said. BJP's representatives in the all-party delegation, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, did not visit the separatist leaders.

The BJP has also sought to clarify that the decision to visit these leaders was not that of the Central government but it was aware of it. The principal opposition is of the opinion that violence is an important tool for the separatists and since terrorism as a weapon had failed, they were resorting to using stone-pelters.

BJP, which is strongly opposed to any move to grant autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir, also believes that though the "romanticism about Azadi" is an "impossibility", National Conference and PDP were raising such slogans merely to win support.

However, the party seems to have a change of heart on certain issues after the recent visit by its leaders to the trouble-torn state. "The first priority of the government should be to reopen the educational institutions and hospitals, the closing down of which causes desperation among the people," another senior party leader said.

The party now even feels "visibility" of the security forces should be reduced in the state but this should be done in a gradual manner. BJP is still strongly opposed to the idea of diluting AFSPA. "There are 2,500 cases where people are seeking permission to prosecute CRPF personnel. Immediately removing the army or diluting AFSPA will create problems," he said.

The main opposition also said that though many policemen are still in hospital due to injuries suffered during stone-pelting, the issue was not being highlighted. It has also refuted charges that several people are under arrest or detention for street violence. "This is misconceived compassion and to what consequence? Only 35 people have been arrested under Public Safety Act (PSA) and ten under criminal charges," the leader said.

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