Srinagar: As the newly appointed interlocutor of the Government of India (GoI), Dineshwar Sharma, is set to visit Kashmir next week, the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has suggested to the resistance leadership that if they believe Sharma’s dialogue offer to be a hoax, then they should expose him.
“Our humble suggestion is that if the separatists believe Sharma’s offer is a hoax, they should come forward, talk with him, and be vindicated,” PDP general secretary Nizamudin Bhat told Kashmir Reader. “They should expose him if they believe it is a diversionary tactic. It can be done by talking to him.”
Bhat claimed that Sharma’s appointment as interlocutor was the first time that the GoI had “institutionalised” the dialogue process.
“The interlocutor has been elevated to the position of cabinet secretary. It is a kind of permanent engagement. There seems to be a serious initiative taken by the government,” Bhat said.
The joint resistance leadership of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik has rejected the possibility of any dialogue with Sharma. They have called his appointment a “time-buying tactic”.
The BJP’s Jammu leader and Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh, has said that Sharma is no “interlocutor” but only a special representative who will take forward the initiative of Home Minister Rajnath Singh of holding talks with various Kashmiri groups.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already ruled out the idea of granting autonomy to Kashmir. In response to former home minister P Chidambaram’s pitch for greater autonomy for the state, Modi stated that his remarks were an “insult to our brave soldiers who have laid down their lives for Kashmir”.
The main opposition party in the J&K legislature, the National Conference (NC), and other civil society groups have also rejected the offer of a dialogue led by Sharma.
Law professor and columnist Dr Sheikh Showket Hussain pointed out that Sharma was appointed at a time when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was to visit India, on October 25.
“New Delhi wanted to show that they were engaging with Kashmir. But the BJP’s own ministers and Prime Minister Modi had already punctured the process. It automatically means that the talks offer will yield nothing,” Hussain said.
Political Science professor at Kashmir University, Gul Wani, said that Sharma should make his arrival felt by making a difference on the ground. “People are asking not for discussion but for action,” Wani said. “The interlocutor should make his initiative somewhat credible by submitting an interim report based on previous discussions, including reports from the prime minister’s working groups, and the reports of the last interlocutors. There are things which are doable. If he is able to take those confidence-building measures, things might change on the ground. Later, future talks can be built upon that.”
Wani said that the statements of Prime Minister Modi and Jitendra Singh have spoiled the prospect of talks.
“Singh has been the biggest spoiler. He gave so many irresponsible statements. He can easily derail the move,” Wani said.
Sharma had stated in an interview that he wanted to address the problem of radicalisation in Kashmir and prevent the state from becoming another Libya, Pakistan or Syria.
“The radicalisation argument cannot be taken into account in isolation. We have to connect it with the happenings on the ground and also with the radicalisation in the rest of the country as well,” Wani said.