Editorial: Not the interlocutor’s call

Srinagar: The centre’s new interlocutor on J&K Dineshwar Sharma is once again arriving in J&K later this month on his second visit. And he will be visiting  South Kahsmir’s worst-hit areas of Anantnag, Pulwama and adjoining areas. He will also once again be travelling to Jammu to strike a ritual balance between the two regions, lest Jammu province see his frequent visits to troubled Valley as some kind of a favour to its people. On his first visit to the state last month, Sharma faced a deep chill. He was reduced to meeting one-man, two-men obscure organizations with very queer names.  And many of these organizations demand some administrative measures for their respective regions. Now the interlocutor plans to visit South Kashmir, the Valley’s most troubled area and interact with the people there.  It will be an exercise similar to the one he undertook last time and which in itself was similar to the ones undertaken by Sharma’s predecessors over the past one and a half decade.  From the way, the exercise is being handled, it almost looks like Sharma is going through his  errands and for the sake of it.

However, in the run up to his arrival the Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to consider releasing those who had been arrested for stone-pelting for the first time. This is being done to ostensibly create a feel-good environment for Sharma’s visit and on his suggestion.  As per news reports, the cases against 4500 first time stone pelters will be dropped to “win hearts” in the Kashmir Valley. .Most of these boys are in their adolescence or barely out of it and  have been booked under various cases for participating in the protests last year. Dropping cases against them will certainly be helpful and may even generate some goodwill but then again it will only be an administrative measure. Though Sharma’s suggesting the measure will help his image, it will hardly help his cause in the state. Granting amnesty to the alleged stone throwers hardly needed his intervention. The state government was competent enough to do it at its own level.

The role of Sharma is potentially much larger. He is ostensibly here to resolve the political issues underpinning the ongoing turmoil And to this end, it will hardly help if he goes about meeting one and two member organizations and the delegations with nothing more than their personal grievances to address. If at all, Sharma is here to make a significant difference, he has to not only chart a different course for himself  but also move beyond what his forerunners have done. He can’t follow the same age-old script and expect a different result. Ignoring separatist groups will hardly get him anywhere. And so would meeting everybody other than them. So, when he comes visiting again his priority must be the political forces which challenge the status quo and then engage them to put together a process of dialogue which in time graduates to something that leads the state out of the long festering conflict.      



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