The surprise meeting of the former Prime Minister of Norway, Kjell Magne Bondevik, with the separatist leaders in Srinagar has triggered a controversy not only in Jammu and Kashmir but among political circles across the country.
Bondevik during his visit to Srinagar on last Friday had held a lengthy meeting with the pro-Pakistan Syed Alishah Geelani at his residence and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was also present in the meeting.
While the separatists appear upbeat by having made the central leadership to involve a foreigner in what is being seen as track-2 diplomacy with them, the National Conference (NC) and Congress have raised questions on the meeting and urged the centre to clarify on the issue.
The centre had so far been sticking to the stand that no third party mediation would be allowed on the Kashmir issue that was an internal matter of India.
However, sources said that Bondevik has not officially been assigned the task of talking to the Hurriyat but this has most probably been initiated as track-2 diplomacy.
It is worth mentioning that the fresh initiative of involving the former PM of Norway comes after the hardcore separatists have refused to talk to the centre’s interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma and had also shut their doors at the 30 member all-party delegation that was led by Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Srinagar in September 2016.
Geelani had crudely turned away from the gate of his residence the opposition leaders, Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), Sharad Yadav (JDU), D Raja of the CPI, Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav of the RJD.
However, these same Hurriyat leaders appeared upbeat after their meeting with Bondevik. Immediately after the meeting, the Mirwaiz took to the tweeter to announce; “Fruitful meeting of JRL with Mr Kjell Magne Bondevik, Ex-Prime Minister of Norway. As Norway is known to play a constructive role in conflict resolution across the globe urged Mr Bondevik to help in ending the daily killings and urgent resolution of the festering Kashmir dispute”, Mirwaiz said.
Reacting to the meeting, former chief minister and NC leader, Omar Abdullah, tweeted; “What are the Norwegians up to in Kashmir? Would either @SushmaSwaraj ji or Doval ji care to put the visit of the former Norwegian PM to both sides of the divided state in the correct context or do we have to rely on rumours & conjecture?”
Taking a TV channel to task that had reported that Omar was upset over Bondevik’s visit to Kashmir, Omar Abdullah in a tweet asked the channel; “Please show me where in my tweet I’ve said or even hinted I’m upset? All I’m asking is for some clarity as to what is happening. Please don’t use my shoulder to fire the gun of your agenda. For the record I’m NOT upset in the least & welcome any initiative to break the ice”.
The Congress has alleged that the “weak” Narendra Modi government “compromised” on the national security by allowing a third party mediation in Jammu and Kashmir. Chief spokesman of Congress, Randeep Surjewala, asked why a former PM of a foreign country was invited for a dialogue with Hurriyat leaders.