NEW DELHI: Janata Dal(United) leader Sharad Yadav is an old war horse, who when he takes a position goes the full course. He was one of the four Members of Parliament who broke away from the official parliamentary delegation to Jammu and Kashmir to go and meet the Hurriyat leaders. Except for Syed Ali Shah Geelani who erred on the side of caution, all others contacted by Yadav, Sitaram Yechury, D.Raja and Jaiprakash Yadav, met the MPs. The list included Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Yasin Malik, Shabir Shah and Abdul Ghani Bhat.

In a quick interview with The Citizen Sharad Yadav made it clear that there was no alternative for them but to meet the Hurriyat leaders. “This was the consensus of the entire Opposition in Parliament,” he pointed out. Excerpts:

Q. So how did you all decide to go and meet the separatist leaders?

A. We were only following the consensus of Parliament. There had been two discussions on the grave crisis in Kashmir, in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha. And almost the entire opposition was clear that there was need to talk to all stakeholders, including the Hurriyat; to stop the use of pellet guns that are completely inhuman. So we went as representatives of the Opposition to meet them, thats all.

Q. So did you feel insulted when Geelani refused to meet you?

A. What is the question of being insulted, or not insulted, when the question of the nation is concerned. I said then, and am saying now, I am prepared to go back again and again until I succeed in persuading him and all others to begin a dialogue. I think by not meeting us, Geelani himself is at the centre of some controversy, but like I say their people have died, they are hurt, so obviously it is not going to be so easy for him. His relatives told me then, to ensure that he and all others are taken out of detention and house arrest before they could talk. But I told him that we are the Opposition, this is not in our hands, but to meet and break the barriers is definitely in our hands.

Four of the five leaders we had wanted to meet, met us. And they said that there was no scope for talks right now, they were all in jail, but said that they had no problem meeting and talking to us and will meet us in Delhi when they are freed.

Q. So did you see any opening of any kind during the official talks with the BJP and PDP?

A. Look at their situation. The PDP is in alliance with the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir, and yet Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti writes to the centre with a list of demands. Chilman mein hain, aur chilman se bahar jhaank bhi rahen hain (they are behind a veil, and yet trying to look out of it). The PDP and BJP themselves signed an agreement when they formed this government in the state to talk to all stakeholders, including Pakistan, including Hurriyat. Its there in writing. And to encourage commerce and trade with Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Where has all that gone.

They have betrayed the people by first forming a government together, and then signing an agreement that they had no intention of following. The PDP and BJP are like tel and aag for each other.

Q. How was the CM at the meeting? Was she at all in control?

A. She is trapped. There is no government there, people are dying.

And look at what they have all done, they have blinded people who will be living testimony to what India has done to its own citizens. There are the zinda saboot of this violence. Kiya kahen ge, aank nikaldi hindustan nein? This is intolerabe;

So whats this question of apman, how can there be any insult or humiiation if we are working for the country. And taking a position for peace, to save our people? Desh ke liye man apman kiya hota hai?