Kashmir hopes Shah to extend an olive branch to resistance camp during two-day visit

Shah, who is visiting the state for the first time after taking charge of the home ministry, will make a detailed security review of the Amarnath Yatra and address a party gathering followed by meetings with the state administration.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday for the first time after taking charge of the ministry and local political leaders are expecting him to announce talks with separatists.

Shah will reach the state’s summer capital, Srinagar, in the afternoon and stay in the state for two days. He is going to make a detailed security review of the Amarnath Yatra and address a party gathering followed by meetings with the state administration. Most of the mainstream parties in the restive state expect Shah to announce talks to restore normalcy in the region.

National Conference (NC) leader Imran Dar said, “We expect the home minister to extend an olive branch… There are reports that the government is willing to start talks with the Hurriyat (separatists). If that is done, all other things will improve.”

Similar thoughts were expressed by senior Congress functionary and former Union minister Saifuddin Soz. “If dialogue is initiated with the Hurriyat, it will be a welcome step,” Soz told News18. “The Government of India (GoI), in fact, should open a dialogue with Hurriyat. I will vociferously support that,” he added. Soz termed dialogue as the only way forward and denounced the use of “muscle policy” in Kashmir.

The state is under President’s Rule and there has been no elected government in power for over year now. On Sunday, Governor Satyapal Malik said separatist leaders were ready for talks.

Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq earlier told News18 that ‘dialogue’ was the only way to resolve Kashmir’s problem. “We have always been in favour of talks as the means of resolution. We have not said anything new,” he said, adding, “Kashmiris being the most-affected party for the past 72 years, naturally want its resolution.”

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which was in power in collation with the BJP in the state, expressed hope that Shah would announce a “confidence-building measure.”

“We have a lot of expectations and we hope the home minister will make an emotional reach-out to the people of Kashmir, especially the youth,” said PDP youth leader Waheed Ur Rahmaan Parra. On the reports about dialogue with the Hurriyat, Parra said his party had always been advocating for talks.