Srinagar: Senior right wing BJP leader and former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha has said that there was “more despondency” among the people this time than there was earlier, even in 2016, in the wake of the Burhan Wani.
In an interview to noted TV personality, journalist Karan Thapar, for The Wire, Sinha who led a team and visited Kashmir several times since last year’s public uprising, said, “… it has deteriorated. The security forces are killing the so-called militants. That is happening. But the alienation, which is the fundamental issue in Jammu and Kashmir, the alienation today is deeper, wider than it was earlier.”
In response to a question that “there is near complete lack of faith in anything that the government of India says or promises because of a history of broken commitments and the Kashmiri people feel that India refuses to recognise that Kashmir is a political problem and therefore requires a political solution”, Sinha said, “this is further complicated, this feeling, by the fact, that on August 15, from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the prime minister said ‘let’s not abuse them, let’s embrace them’.”
“So embrace them. People are still waiting from August 15 and now it has been six weeks. Then the home minister goes to Srinagar and he says ‘we are prepared to talk to all stakeholders, I invite all stakeholders to talk to me’. Now, what is this? That he is sitting in the guest house, and people will come and seek an appointment? Is this the way a dialogue is conducted?” he said about Rajnath Singh’s Kashmir visit.
“We have said it in a press statement the other day, that now, with the prime minister having said what he said, the home minister having said what he has said, it is time to operationalise these statements from rhetoric to action. And what should they do? They should first identify the stakeholders. When we say we’ll talk to the stakeholders, who are their stakeholders?” he added.
He said that the stakeholders “included” the Hurriyat Conference. “They (BJP and PDP) themselves have said in the ‘Agenda of Alliance’ that all stakeholders include…”
When asked that the BJP government in Delhi has backed away from the Hurriyat Conference, Sinha replied, “So let them say whether Hurriyat (Conference) is a stakeholder or not.”
“First (there should be) clarity on who their stakeholders are. They should do that, number one. Number two, then they should say who the interlocutor for the dialogue from the government side will be. Is it going to be a home minister? It was Mr. Advani, the deputy prime minister, who was the interlocutor on behalf of the government.”
Sinha maintained that interlocutor should be someone of equivalent to Advani. “It should be… So is it going to be a home minister? Is it somebody specially appointed? Is it going to be a single member task force? Is it going to be a multi-member thing? All these things will have to be decided. Then you have to set out a time frame. That we are going to meet the stakeholders in this manner. Send out invites, ask them to come wherever and talk to the interlocutor.”
“It has to have a fixed timeframe. Nobody in Kashmir is going to accept something which is indeterminate. So these are the steps we have said, in a press statement recently, the government should take and immediately start the dialogue process so that the political problem can be addressed,” he asserted.