Two days ahead of the Centre’s special representative Dineshwar Sharma’s visit to Kashmir to hold dialogues, JKLF chief Yasin Malik on Saturday accused New Delhi of “holding talks at gun point”. Several civil society groups have sought “disclosure of rules of engagement beforehand.”Mr. Malik, who is facing an Enforcement Directorate notice in a 2001 case, said, “India wants to use the Gabbar Singh approach. I have not received any notice yet. It was first disclosed to the media for a trial.”‘Political vendetta’He said these “farcical cases are meant to settle political vendetta, threaten political resistance and force people to join the so-called talk shows on gun point.”“This regime wants to convey to us that shun resistance or we will kill you,” he added.In a joint statement issued by Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, they described the ED notice to Mr. Malik as “a ploy”. “Over a dozen resistance leaders and a businessman have been lodged in the Tihar jail on fictitious charges levelled by the ED and the NIA,” said Mr. Geelani and the Mirwaiz in the statement. So far, these leaders have taken a public stand not to engage Mr. Sharma.Meanwhile, several civil society groups have called for a dialogue in “in its historical perspective”. “All the three parties — India, Pakistan and separatists — have publicly stated that the final settlement of the dispute could be arrived at through meaningful, resulted-oriented and time-bound negotiations. The engagement of the nominated representative can only be meaningful if and when unconditional talks are held with Hurriyat and JKLF, besides the main parties,” they added.Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, the deputy Grand Mufti, said the appointment of the interlocutor was “an eyewash and an attempt to befool people.”Sharma’s visit tomorrowMr. Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau director, who is arriving in Kashmir on a four-day visit on Monday, sent formal invites to several mainstream parties except for the National Conference (NC).The parties that received invitations included Congress state chief G.A. Mir, Peoples Democratic Front chairman Hakeem Yasin, CPI(M) leader M. Y. Tarigami and Democratic Party Front chairman Ghulam Hassan Mir. “We shall discuss the matter with our party leaders and take a decision,” said Mr. Mir.Mehbooba for dialogueIn a series of tweets, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said democracy was a battle of ideas and “dialogue was the only way forward.”“Prime Minister Modi has an unprecedented mandate and can create history by changing the narrative on J&K,” she tweeted. She also called for “reviving J&K’s traditional routes to foster greater economic activity”. “Article 370 is the nation’s commitment to the people of J&K and therefore should be honoured,” she added.
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC), the country’s apex body to handle any emergency, on Saturday reviewed the preparedness to deal with cyclone ‘Bulbul’ that is likely to affect coastal districts of West Bengal and Odisha.The meeting of the NCMC, headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, was informed by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) that the cyclone has intensified and is likely to cross the West Bengal coast by Saturday evening.Heavy to extremely heavy rainfall, accompanied by winds reaching upto 120 kmph and tidal waves up to one to two metres high are expected. The cyclone is expected to make a landfall on the West Bengal coast at around 2000 to 2200 hours on Saturday. Chief Secretaries of West Bengal and Odisha said that teams of the State Disaster Response Force and Fire Service teams have been positioned. Fishing operations have been suspended and people in low lying areas are being evacuated to shelter homes. As many as 16 teams of the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force have been positioned in West Bengal and additional teams are being deployed at the request of the States. Officials of the Defence Ministry said that requisite number of ships, aircraft and special teams of the Coast Guard, the Indian Navy, the Army and the Air Force are on standby.