New Delhi: With separatist-inspired violence in the Kashmir Valley still grabbing headlines and the state and central administrations at Srinagar and Delhi scratching around to come up with an appropriate response, Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh today summoned an all party meeting at his residence to consider steps that could be taken to defuse the situation.
The government has already drawn heavy criticism for its ham-handed effort to advance the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as a sacrificial pawn - having offered to withdraw it in a limited manner, or even wholesale, or to amend its features, as a sop to Valley politicians who would then like to present it to the 'people' as a major concession wrung out of a recalcitrant Delhi. The meeting may discuss this issue as well.
A major player in local Valley politics, the PDP, which has so far refused to engage in any Srinagar-sponsored dialogues, has made it a point to attend the all party meet summoned by the PM, with its president Mehbooba Mufti heading the delegation.
Ahead of the meeting, PMO sources have let it be known that the exercise would attempt to gauge the extent to which consensus can be built amongst the various stakeholders in Valley politics as well as national political parties. The meet would also explore attempts that could be made to resume dialogue with different sections of the people.
Besides, Congress president and UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, others attending the meet are union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, top BJP leaders LK Advani, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley, CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat and CPI's D Raja. The Yadav trinity of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sharad Yadav representing their respective parties the SP, RJD and JD-U respectively.
The ruling National Conference Party in Srinagar is represented through a five-member delegation led by party president Farooq Abdullah. The NC is the strongest votary of either diluting or partially withdrawing the AFSPA from sections of Kashmir in a bid to restore peace to the state.