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Rahul Gandhi Fans Club, Kashmir Auto Rickshaw Association...Obscure delegations line up to meet Sharma

Riyaz Wani | Updated on: 8 November 2017, 14:58 IST

More than 30 largely obscure delegations met Dineshwar Sharma, the Centre’s new interlocutor for Kashmir, on his second day in the state. And among them were the two members of some Child Protection Committee Waterhail Budgam headed by one Irshad Hussain, three members associated with the All Kashmir Auto Rickshaw Association led by one Showkat Ahmad and more interestingly –  three members of Rahul Gandhi Fans Association headed by one Peerzada Mohammad Shafi.

Other delegations who called on Sharma included –

– A lone person Abdul Khaliq from Valley chapter of Shiv Sena

– Two persons from the oddly named Red Winter Youth Organisation headed by Aaqib Rinzo Shah

– Five persons from one ‘216 Transit Camp Badami Bagh’ led by Jahandad Bashir

– Two persons from the State Employees Working Women's Association chaperoned by its chairperson Safiya Malik

– Two persons from the Travel Agents J&K Association including its chairman Shameem Shah

There were some political delegations too –

– One J&K Watan Parast Party headed by Khalid Tufail. He had come with six people

– Five-member strong Muslim Rashtriya Manch led by Mir Nazir Ahmad

– Tehreek-e-Insaf led by one Adil Hussain Dar. His delegation too comprised five people

– 10 members from the Janata Dal United delegation led by its state president GM Shaheen

– One man Rashtriya Samajwadi Party led by Er. Sajjad Mushtaq Rishi

– 13 person-strong Lok Janshakti Party headed by its relatively better-known leader Sanjay Saraf

– And a 15 member delegation from something called J&K Political Migrant Front headed by Mahudin Shabnam

The only credible political delegation that met Sharma was the one led by the ruling PDP’s Youth president Waheed-ur-Rehman Para. Talking to media later, Parra termed the meeting 'productive'.

“This is a meaningful dialogue process because it is an institutionalised process and the Union government has owned it,” Parra said.

Of course, there were some media groups too:

– Four persons from ‘Affiliated Doordarshan’ led by one Showkat Hussain

– Four persons from Jammu Kashmir Media Association, headed by its General Secretary Arshid Mir

In a statement issued later, Mir said they had apprised the interlocutor of “all the problems of small newspapers in J&K”.

“The delegation discussed some critical issues concerning advertisement policy 2016 with him. As a result, these newspapers are passing through difficult times,” Mir said adding that the small newspapers fully supported and helped the state government in maintaining peace and normalcy in the state and always played a positive role for the progress and prosperity of the state.

“But unfortunately we have been ignored,” he added.

The delegation, Mir said, also told Sharma that the central government “must provide transparent support to newspapers so that they can positively play their role in the (ongoing) dialogue process”.

However, no well-known media organisation or even the influential Kashmir Editors Guild chose to meet Sharma.

Incidentally, the two members of the Child Protection Committee, Budgam later told the media that they had asked Sharma to get the state government to appoint a Tehsildar for their area. They said they had got a call from the police informing them about an appointment with Dineshwar Sharma.

“We came here and raised local issues of our area. We told the interlocutor that our area is without Tehsildar,” they said.

Similarly, two women from an NGO from North Kashmir’s Kupwara said they had “requested the rehabilitation of widows in their villages”. Abida, one of them said, there were thousands of widows in the Valley and that they have urged the government to take care of them.

Interestingly a group of the released militants going by the name of Human Welfare Association also called on Sharma.

“We asked him (Sharma) that former militants should be properly rehabilitated. We also raised the issue of pellet victims. We also sought steps for the resolution of Kashmir,” the group’s head Saifullah Farooq told reporters, after coming out of the meeting.

Touseef Raina of the Global Youth Foundation, who had brought a group of youth to the meeting, said he had raised issues related to the youth in Kashmir. “The local youth are the real stakeholders. We should be taken into confidence,” he said.

On Sharma’s first day, representatives of Gujjar and Bakerwal associations, fruit growers, youth sports associations and some lesser-known non-governmental organisations had called on him.

Sharma is expected to meet three smaller Valley-based opposition parties like CPI (M), Democratic Party Nationalist and Peoples Democratic Front on Wednesday at the Communist leader MY Tarigami’s residence.

On the other hand, there is still some doubt about his meeting with the major Opposition party National Conference. Talking to media, NC spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu said his party had not received any formal intimation from the interlocutor.

“As and when we receive it, we will consider it and decide,” Mattu said.

On the other hand, continuing with his criticism against the Centre’s approach towards J&K, NC president Dr Farooq Abdullah said the present and previous governments at Centre had created conditions for the current turmoil in J&K.

“It is because of their (New Delhi) repeated deception that people of Kashmir do not even have an iota of faith in central government and its political initiatives,” Abdullah said while speaking at a public rally at Machil Kupwara on Tuesday on the last day of his four-day tour of the areas along the Line of Control.

“The best political initiative from the BJP government at the Centre would have been taking steps to restore faith of people by showing sincerity in addressing Kashmir issue. Instead, there has been a well planned political conspiracy to aggravate the situation by fiddling with Article 35A and Article 370 of Indian Constitution,” Abdullah said.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

First published: 8 November 2017, 14:58 IST