Srinagar: Contrary to the stand taken by the joint resistance leadership (JRL), two top leaders of the Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz) met Government of India’s special representative for Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, during his second visit to the valley in last week of November. Among the leaders was Muslim Conference chairman and executive member of the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat Conference, Prof Abdul Gani Bhat. The meeting took place two weeks after Sharma said he was trying to meet Hurriyat leaders.
The meeting is controversial because the JRL comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik had refused to engage in any dialogue with Sharma.
Prof Abdul Gani Bhat told Kashmir Reader that he was a “great supporter of dialogue” and had “no reservations” about talking to Sharma, unlike the JRL.
“The JRL has reservations, but I don’t. You see, they (JRL), too, are supporters of dialogue but they have reservations. I will even talk to the devil if it is about Kashmir,” Prof Bhat said.
He said that the involvement of Pakistan is a must for any meaningful dialogue.
Bhat leads his faction of the Muslim Conference and holds an influential position in the Hurriyat Conference led by the Mirwaiz. He ducked questions about his meeting with Sharma, saying he would not reveal anything about “any meeting”.
“I will talk at the appropriate time and according to my own discretion. (Sharma) will have to pick it up that there is a persistent demand that Pakistan should be engaged. Sharma met many people in Srinagar, in south (Kashmir), and people have told him about this,” he said.
Prof Bhat said that the appointment of Sharma as interlocutor was itself a result of talks with various groups. “How did it (Sharma’s appointment) happen? It happened when pressure was built on New Delhi. The pressure was built after people in Kashmir met former foreign minister and BJP stalwart Yashwant Sinha and his team, including Kapil Kak and (Bharat) Bhushan,” he explained. “Appointment of the special representative is the result of work done by the Sinha team, which put across the word (to Delhi) that Kashmiris need to be engaged and dialogue must be started.”