Several delegations meet Sharma in Kargil, demand talks with separatists

Several delegations meet Sharma in Kargil, demand talks with separatists
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Leh, Mar 12: Several delegations, including religious and political organisations, met Centre-appointed interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma on Monday in the border town of Kargil and voiced for dialogue with separatists on Kashmir issue.
Sharma — who is a former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief — is on his maiden three-day visit to Ladakh region, after being appointed as an interlocutor for Kashmir on October 23, 2017 by the Centre, to initiate a meaningful dialogue process with all stakeholders.
Official sources said that several delegations, including members of the Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust Kargil, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat Kargil, Anjuman e Sahab Zaman Kargil, Anjuman e Sufia Noorbakshia Kargil, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Kargil, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Kargil, Indian National Congress (INC) Kargil and the National Conference (NC) Kargil, met Sharma at the Conference Hall Baroo in Kargil.
“We have unanimously called for resolution of Kashmir issue through a purposeful dialogue process by involving all stakeholders, including the Hurriyat conference.
‘We demand integrity of the state to be maintained at all costs, grant of provincial status to Ladakh region, construction of alternate highways and motorable roads like Panikhar-Pahalgam Road, Hanu-Tiakshi Road over Chorbat La, besides opening of Kargil-Skardu and Nubra-Khapulu Roads,’ the delegation members told reporters after meeting the Centre-appointed interlocutor.
On Sunday, after arriving in Leh, Sharma met as many as 18 delegations, including religious groups, students and political workers. ‘Many demands, including designation of Ladakh region be designated as Union Territory (UT), were put forth before the interlocutor,’ they added.
Before this, the interlocutor has visited Kashmir valley and Jammu region five times since October last year.
During his visits to the Valley, Sharma’s main focus was south Kashmir, which has witnessed major encounters and protests since 2016.
South Kashmir was the most affected area in the Valley during the 2016 unrest that left over 120 civilians dead and thousands wounded. Two policemen were also killed and about 2000 security force personnel were injured during this period.
The interlocutor had, during his maiden visit to the valley in November 2017, said that he will try his level best to bring the separatists on board. However, he has not been able to make any headway as most of the trade unions and civil society leaders, apart from the separatists, have stayed away during his previous three visits.
However, Sharma is credited for the amnesty announced by J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to first time stone pelters in Kashmir in November, 2017.
The development had come after the Centre advised the Jammu and Kashmir government to withdraw cases against about 4,500 youth, who were first-time offenders or stone-pelters.
The advice was given by the Centre on the recommendations of Sharma, who is trying to woo the people, to initiate a dialogue process.
The granting of amnesty to first-time stone pelters has generated hope among the general public that more such confidence building measures will be taken by the Centre and the state government in the coming days.