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Indian parliamentary delegation gets cold shoulder in Srinagar

A delegation sent to Indian-administered Kashmir after an emergency all-party meeting held by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week has not been welcomed with open arms.

Kashmiri politicians have called for the curfew to be lifted

Kashmiri politicians have called for the curfew to be lifted

Whatever might have been the expectations of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in sending an all-party delegation of parliamentarians to Indian-administered Kashmir, they were meant to be disappointed.

Clashes with the security forces that had their origin in protests against the threat of a Koran being burnt in the United States, soon turned into anti-India demonstrations. Three months of such demonstrations, which have left more than 100 civilians dead.

Wound too deep

This is not a wound which can be healed by an all-party delegation from New Delhi, even if headed by the Home Minister P. Chidambaram and includes such opposition heavy weights as Arun Jaitley from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Sitaram Yechury, the veteran communist leader.

Even moderate separatist leaders showed the guests the cold shoulder. The hardline separatists were outright in their rejection.

A "farce"

Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq called the visit a "farce" in an interview with AFP. "We cannot support these half-hearetd gestures that are just to make the government look as if they are serious," he said.

Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq

Even Mehbooba Mufti, the leader of the state government opposition, did not go in person to Monday's meetings, commenting that her views were known: the curfew should be lifted immediately.

Prime Minster Manmohan Singh has said more than once that Kashmir's problems can be only addressed through dialogue. But with each death on the street, anger seems to have surpassed the motivation to talk.

Editor: Anne Thomas

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