'Ready to meet anyone': Rajnath Singh arrives in Kashmir on 4-day trip, Farooq Abdullah not hopeful of any outcome

During his four-day visit, the Home Minister will travel to Srinagar, Anantnag, Jammu and Rajouri and meet civil society members, leaders of political and social outfits, business leaders and others.
Rajnath Singh Source: PTI
Reported by: Agencies New Delhi September 09, 2017 15:30 IST

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today arrived in Jammu and Kashmir on a four-day visit. Ahead of his tour, Singh said on Friday that he was going there with an “open mind” and is ready to meet anyone who wishes to interact with him as the government wants resolution of all the problems.

"I am going with an open mind. I personally want that we talk to everyone. So whoever comes to meet me, I will talk to them," Singh told media persons. 

Singh further said that the government has "all the intentions" to solve the Kashmir issue. 

He will be accompanied by newly-appointed Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and senior ministry officials.

During his four-day visit, the Home Minister will travel to Srinagar, Anantnag, Jammu and Rajouri and meet civil society members, leaders of political and social outfits, business leaders and others. 

Rajnath Singh's visit to the state is seen as a follow-up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Independence Day speech in which he reached out to the people of the Valley saying "Na gaali se, na goli se, samasya suljegi gale lagane se", (Neither bullets nor recrimination, the problem will be solved by embracing Kashmiris). 

The Home Minister had on August 19 said that a solution to the Kashmir problem would be found before 2022. 

During his visit, the Minister will also meet Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. He will also review the Prime Minister's Development Package and the security situation in the state.

He is to meet various delegations in Srinagar and Jammu and also interact with police jawans, CRPF and BSF personnel in the state.

The Minister is slated to meet and interact with college and university students in Srinagar.

The Home Minister is expected to attend a comprehensive security review meeting with Mehbooba Mufti and the top brass of the Army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir Police on Sunday. The following day, he will address a press conference in Srinagar before leaving for Jammu. He will also visit a camp of the BSF in Rajouri.

Singh will meet traders, migrants, Kashmiri pandits and representatives of communities including Gujjars and Bakarwals. 

In September 2016, he had visited the state leading an all-party delegation and met people from various sections of society. However, the Kashmiri separatists had rebuffed attempts by five opposition MPs to talk to them.

However, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has said that he did not expect anything at all to come out of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Kashmir Valley. 

“I have no expectation at all. He will come, he will meet as he had done before. He led a delegation of MPs (earlier).  What happened to that delegation and their recommendations?  Nothing happened and I expect nothing to happen now,” said Abdullah, the president of the opposition National Conference.  

He was talking to reporters after a visit to Naseembagh mausoleum of his father and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in Srinagar on his 35th death anniversary on Friday.  

During his four-day visit beginning tomorrow, Singh will travel to Srinagar, Anantnag, Jammu and Rajouri and meet civil society members, leaders of political and social outfits, business leaders and others, a move seen as a follow-up to the prime minister’s Independence Day speech in which he had reached out to the people of the valley. 
In response to a question on the arrest of separatist leaders by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) as part of its probe into terror funding, Abdullah said, “That is the tragedy. If you have come to talk to anybody, then those people (separatists) should be released so that they can tell the home minister what they have to tell.” “It is important that they should be released and they can tell him what is in their minds and hearts,” he said. 
Abdullah said he would accept the NIA raids on separatists as “genuine” only if these actions throw up something against them. 

“If it is only to harass them (separatists) so that they bow before them (government), I want to tell the NIA and the Government of India that no one here is ready to sell their beliefs,” he added. 

On the steps taken by his National Conference for defending Article 35A of the Constitution which has been challenged by an NGO before the Supreme Court, the Lok Sabha member from Srinagar said his party had already prepared a team of lawyers for this purpose. 

“I have also spoken to the lawyer. We will have a good representation of lawyers who will defend Article 35A,” he said. 

Article 35A provides special rights to permanent citizens of the state. 

On the killing of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in Bengaluru, Abdullah said it was the most tragic event “for us all who want to defend democracy, who want to defend against the communal tendencies that are emerging in the country.” 

On the Rohingya issue, Abdullah said, “It is the most tragic event of the century where innocent people are being eliminated because of their religion. I want to raise this question to the United Nations Human Rights Commission—What are they doing? Do not they see the murder of democracy and humanity?” 

“I would request Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi that she must work very hard to save these (Rohingya) people who are part of her country,” he added.

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