SRINAGAR: The interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma’s three-day stay in Kashmir during his maiden five-day visit to the State did not generate much political heat and enthusiasm among the political circles.
The mainstream politicians, former interlocutor and political analyst blamed non clarity on Sharma’s mandate, no Kashmir-specific Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) and conflicting statements on his appointment by central ministers for the lukewarm response.
Opposition National Conference chief spokesperson and MLA Budgam, Aga Ruhullah told New Indian Express that lukewarm response to Sharma was due to confusion created by central government about the process.
“First Union MoS PMO said there is no issue in Kashmir and then PM Modi said talking of autonomy is equivalent to talking of Azadi and merger with Pakistan. Through these statements, they took life out from the interlocution process,” he said.
Sharma arrived here on Monday and left today for Jammu, where he would be staying for two days and meeting political and apolitical delegations. During his three-day visit in Valley, he met over 70 delegations, most of them less significant. The opposition NC delegation did not meet him while Congress delegation told him to clear stand on his mandate. The separatist leaders and representatives of major trade and travel associations also did not meet him.
According to Ruhullah, Sharma arrived here with empty hands with nothing to offer.
“He is not ready to listen to anybody. This is not a serious process. You have to listen to different ideas otherwise, there is no fun of this process,” he said.
The NC spokesman said his party did not receive invitation for talks by Sharma. “He had met NC working president Omar Abdullah in a personal capacity”.
Alleging that Sharma had come to impose his will, Ruhullah said when he comes next time, he should do a proper home work and no conditions should be attached for talks.
“Without talking to all stakeholders, this process lacks seriousness and is a futile exercise,” he added.
State Congress vice president G N Monga said the interlocution process has been surrounded by confusion.
“Different ministers gave different statements and central government has not stated anything about his mandate. The centre has to be very serious about the process and make public what kind of mandate has been given to Sharma,” he said.
Monga said if centre wants to have result-oriented negotiations, it needs to be very serious.
“The interlocution process is a half hearted efforts of GoI,” he said and advised Sharma to do a proper homework about whom to meet and how to approach them.
Former interlocutor and ex-central Information Commissioner M M Ansari said the interlocution is not a serious process and nothing will come out of it.
“It is a futile exercise and an eye wash,” he said.
Ansari said Sharma is not an interlocutor. “The interlocutor engages with all stakeholders for talks.
“He is centre’s representative and central government should have named stakeholders with whom he would talk. There should be a clarity, who are major stakeholders with whom he has to talk,” he said.
Advocating openness, he said the process should not be shrouded under secrecy. “We used to interact with media after our interactions with political parties and others”.
Ansari said the major task for Sharma would be to check lapses and loopholes in security arrangements to minimise and consequently eliminate militancy from the Valley.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his August 15 speech had said Kashmir problem can be resolved by embracing Kashmiris. “However, PM has not come out with an outline approach as how they are going to embrace Kashmiris”.
The former interlocutor said some Kashmir-specific confidence building measures should be announced to take forward the dialogue process and make it result-oriented and fruitful so that more people become part of it.
Political analyst Gul Wani said people are not meeting Shama because his mandate is not clear. “It is not known what mandate he has. There are many iffs and buts about kind of mandate he has”.
“When his mandate is not clear, there is a perception that he is here to supplement security agencies and fill the gap due to domestic and international pressure,” he said.
He said mainstream parties would find it difficult to meet Sharma again if the centre does not come up with mandate for him.
Wani said there is huge vacuum on the ground and due to it even mainstream parties have become irrelevant. “Hurriyat has also been pushed to the wall. From last one year, we are seeing the youth and the militant youth, who are calling shots on the ground,” he said.
He said the CBMs including release of political leaders and youth jailed and booked under PSAs, withdrawal of FIRs and cases against youth, handing over of some power projects to J&K government, making public report of some inquiries conducted in human rights violations, special employment package for State youth and improvement of infrastructure of cross-LoC and travel should have been announced for creating conducive grounds for the talks.
These CBMs, he said, would have sent a message that Indian government was actually moving away from maximalist and militarist position into a sort of political paradigm.