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The Centre's special representative for Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, today met former chief minister Omar Abdullah who asked him to remove the misunderstanding created by some statements from the power corridors in Delhi. Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, began the day's engagements by calling on Omar Abdullah at his residence and discussed matters and issues concerning the state and steps required for lasting peace. "We discussed the prevailing situation in the state, as also steps that can be taken to make his visits to the state more meaningful," Omar Abdullah said after the meeting while making it clear that he had met Sharma in his individual capacity. The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister said that Sharma came and conveyed to him about the task he had been given by the government. "He sought my views on how to carry out his task in a right way. How he would make his mission more successful. Whatever I told him is between us. I hope he would implement the suggestions that I put forward before him over expanding the sphere of talks because if you would continue waiting in a guest house for people, then this process won't work," Omar Abdullah said. He expressed hope that Sharma would move around the Valley as "all of us want that this issue is resolved through dialogue so that people here spend their lives in peace and calm environment." He was asked about his father and Parliament member Farooq Abdullah's comments dubbing the Centre's attempt as futile. Omar Abdullah said his father had never downplayed the effort. "The Centre itself dampened our expectations and the Prime Minister himself made a statement saying that talking about internal autonomy is akin to talking about Azadi. So for people like us, who talk about internal autonomy, it is obviously like sprinkling water on our hopes," Omar Abdullah said. The National Conference leader said his party would see what kind of cooperation is extended by the Centre to Sharma. To a question about the reasons behind the "cold" response to Sharma, Omar Abdullah said "I hope that the misunderstandings that were created by the Centre about Sharma's mission and that his status was undermined particularly from the PMO...
If the the roadblocks created by the Centre in of Sharma's mission are cleared.... I think next time more people would be ready to meet him". He, however, added that the responsibility lies on the Centre. "Till now, the Centre instead of making his task easy, has made it difficult," he said adding that the ball was in the Centre's court. 61-year-old Sharma, while entering the "Hari Nivas' for talks with other delegations, told reporters that he would try to meet separatist leaders as part of government's efforts to resolve the issues facing the state through a sustained dialogue. "I will try my best," Sharma said when asked if he would go an extra mile to meet the Hurriyat Conference leaders. The Joint Resistance Forum, a conglomerate of 3 separatist organisations-- the hardline and moderate factions of the Hurriyat Conference and the JKLF--had announced that they would not meet him and dubbed his appointment a "time- buying tactic" of the Centre. On his engagements, Sharma said his meetings had gone well. "I met a lot of people. I wish that peace returns to Kashmir very soon and a political solution also comes as quickly as possible," he added. Sharma, who is on a five-day visit to the state, also jointly met CPM leader M Y Tarigami, who represents south Kashmir's Kulgam constituency in the assembly, Hakeem Yaseen, independent MLA from Budgam district, and former state minister Ghulam Hassan Mir. Later Tarigami told reporters that they conveyed to the Centre's special representative that violence is no solution to the problem and dialogue is the only credible process. "However, there are voices emerging in the corridors of power undermining this initiative. Already such initiatives in past have created a big disappointment. Now the confidence level of an average Kashmiri about such initiatives remains at the lowest ebb." He said if the initiative has to be made successful, the Centre needs to take certain confidence building measures which includes reassuring the people of the state that the Article 370 and 35-A will be safeguarded. Tarigami said that they also demanded a judicial commission in the spate of violence that took place in 2016-17 besides reviewing the cases of the people arrested by the state police. Senior leader of the ruling PDP, Sartaj Madni, who is Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's maternal uncle, also met Sharma later in the afternoon followed by Abdul Rashid, an independent MLA from Langate. Sharma is spending three days in the Valley. Tomorrow, he will travel to Jammu, where he will hold talks with Governor N N Vohra, the chief minister and various delegations. He was appointed the Centre's special representative on October 23 in a fresh bid for lasting peace.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)