SRINAGAR: In a significant departure from his previous statements, the newly appointed representative of New Delhi for Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, today said he was “trying to meet Hurriyat” leaders as part of the dialogue process.

Sharma, who met nearly 37 delegations yesterday, some of them comprising of two or three members of relatively unknown groups, met the CPI (M) leader, Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami, and former chief minister Omar Abdullah today morning.

“I met many people. My wish is to see peace return to Kashmir. So far the meetings have been very good. Now, I am also trying to meet Hurriyat leaders,” Sharma, who will hold a similar exercise with people in Jammu region tomorrow, told reporters after meeting Tarigami.

The former Intelligence Bureau chief had stayed away from naming Hurriyat leaders, as part of the BJP-led Centre’s aggressive Kashmir policy. He stoked a controversy earlier after saying the aim of his outreach was to stop Kashmir from becoming “another Syria”.

Earlier, Sharma also met junior Abdullah at his Gupkar residence today morning. “Mr Dineshawar Sharma & I met at my residence in Srinagar this morning. 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 wrote on Twitter.

Speaking with reporters outside the residence, Omar said Sharma asked him for suggestions on how to “effectively” go about the dialogue process started by New Delhi. “He asked for my opinion on how to effectively go about the work assigned to him. I shared my thoughts with him. I hope he acts on my suggestions,” said Abdullah.

The former chief minister said if Sharma, who has been given the rank of cabinet secretary by the Centre, sits in a guesthouse (Sharma is putting up at Hari Niwas in Srinagar) and waits for people to come and meet him, such an effort “won’t yield results”.

The former IB boss is also expected to meet the Congress leaders and leaders of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party and BJP. According to reports, the PDP-BJP coalition government had earlier tried to get the veteran Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani on board for talks but with no success.

The opposition National Conference and the Congress as well as the trade bodies in Kashmir have urged Sharma to hold talks with the Hurriyat while asking New Delhi to engage with Pakistan in a parallel exercise in order to make the dialogue “meaningful”.

Following in the footsteps of the Hurriyat, the prominent trade bodies and business organisations in Kashmir have already announced that they will not hold talks with Sharma, although many of them have been sent formal invitations.