NEW DELHI: In an initiative to usher in lasting peace in Jammu and Kashmir, the Modi Government has decided to start “sustained dialogue and interaction” with all stakeholders, including separatists, in the state.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced on Monday that former Intelligence Bureau Director Dineshwar Sharma would be the government’s representative to initiate dialogue with all stakeholders in the insurgency-hit state “to understand the legitimate aspirations of the wide cross-sections of society, particularly the youth in Jammu and Kashmir, and communicate them to the state government and the Centre”.
When asked if Hurriyat Conference leaders would be engaged in talks, Singh said Sharma would be free to talk to anyone he thought was necessary. No conditions had been laid down, he said.
Singh’s announcement marks a complete U-turn by the Centre as it had categorically ruled out talks with separatists, including Hurriyat leaders, in the past.In May, the then Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said the NDA government would “neither compromise with separatists nor with terrorists”.
Earlier, in April, too, the Centre told the Supreme Court that there wouldn’t be any talks with separatists or those raising slogans of “azadi” in Kashmir. In response to a plea filed by the Jammu and Kashmir Bar Association, the government had made it clear that it was ready to hold negotiations only with recognised political parties.In the past few months, the Modi regime has taken a tough stand against hardliners. Multiple agencies are probing terror-funding in the state and several key separatist leaders have come under their scanner.
On Monday, however, the Home Minister said the government’s move was in line with the Prime Minister’s Independence Day outreach to the people of the state. “Na goli se na gaali se, Kashmir ki samasya suljhegi galey lagane se (Neither by bullet nor by abuses, but by embracing we can solve the problem of Kashmir),” Modi had said.Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti welcomed the announcement. “This is the need of the hour and the only way to go forward. It is a good initiative,” she said.
The Congress, however, latched on to the government’s turnaround, saying the ruling dispensation finally seemed to have realised that its “hawkish” approach in Kashmir failed.Sharma, who will enjoy Cabinet Secretary rank, will submit a report to the Centre and the state after the dialogue prociess is over.
Who is Dineshwar Sharma?
Will he talk to separatist groups?
The modalities are being worked out but I would like to talk to everyone who is interested in bringing permanent peace in the Valley... My doors will be open to everyone,” Sharma said