No meetings with separatists for visiting MPs


All-party delegation headed for Kashmir

New Delhi: While the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is working out ground rules for the all-party Parliamentary delegation scheduled to visit Kashmir, indications are that the MPs will not be allowed to meet the separatist leaders.

The delegation will arrive in the Valley on September 4 and interact with a cross-section of people during their two-day visit.

Sources in the MHA said that once the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry formalised the contours of the delegation, a preparatory briefing for the MPs was scheduled for September 3, where they would be told about the details of the visit.

Asked if the delegation would interact with the separatist leaders in the Valley, as suggested by several opposition leaders, a senior MHA official said: “Possibly not, as talks and discussion can take place only within the framework of the Constitution.”

He, however, indicated that if any individual MP desired so, he could “hold discussion in his personal capacity”, as had happened during a similar exercise in 2010. “How can we stop an individual from meeting another individual? But at the delegation level, possibly not,” he said.

Almost all major political parties have already been approached by the Central government and have been asked to nominate a member for the delegation. Home Minister Rajnath Singh is learnt to have directly contacted the leaders of major opposition parties and informed them about the government’s decision to send an all-party delegation to the Valley.

Confirming this, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “I was told that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh were working out the details of the visit.”

CPM leader D Raja too confirmed that he was contacted by the government.

In the Congress, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, has also been contacted and the party will depute a senior leader for the delegation, sources said.