Where is the Interlocutor?

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By Fida Hussain Sodagar

Where is the Interlocutor? Does anybody remember him? You got it right I am talking of Dineshwar Sharma. He is the man recently added to the endless list of interlocutors on the Kashmir issue. We don’t have much hope as we have seen brutal failures in the past. At least we, wanted to settle on his visibility. He comes, meets the elite and disappears. It seems he has already made up his mind to carry the legacy of his predecessors. “Interlocution” is not new in the Jammu and Kashmir’s beleaguered history. The word has been ruthlessly misused and abused by the Government when applied to Kashmir. Attempts were made in the past to break the imbroglio by appointing special representatives. The first major attempt to kick off a dialogue was in 2001 when the Union Government appointed KC Pant as its interlocutor on Kashmir. But, K.C pant failed to bring anything substantial results. This effort of bringing peace in the valley ended up in utter failure.
Then the series of interlocutors, committees and round table conferences with abortive endings followed. Ram Jethmalani, Narendra Nath Vohra, Arun Jailey, and many more failed to bring any significant transformation in the conflict torn valley. Unlimited non seriousness and broken commitment on the part of Government of India strangled the flowers of meaningful peace process. Everyone projected only the illusion of peace to the people of Kashmir.
After the bloody summer of 2010, the UPA Government appointed a team of interlocutors headed by eminent Journalist Dilip Padgaonkar. The other members of the team included M.M Ansari, former Information Commissioner and the academic Radha Kumar. The team showed some seriousness in initiating a meaningful engagement. It submitted its report in 2012. In their report, Padgaonkar, Kumar and M.M. Ansari had insisted upon the Union Government to reduce the army’s visibility, urgently address human rights violations, review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA, setting up of constitutional committee and lift the Disturbed Areas Act. But these recommendations were never made public. These recommendations were trashed and put to feed the dust on the shelves of Ministry of Home Affairs. The report was put up under the carpet never to be discussed and buried for forever.
Now, Dineshwar Sharma was given the name of Interlocutor after the bloody summer of 2016. But, the exercise seemed to the metaphor of same old rhetoric. Most of the people remained away from the talks with him. Nothing positive is visible. The bloodshed, pellets and bullets continue. While the blood is being spilled on the streets of the valley everyday and the roads are painted with blood, the interlocutor is meeting a selective group of people who are more concerned about the development and politics. Rather than a committed political dialogue, this exercise seems to be a completely fruitless. No one even remembers that the interlocutor is on the job. Former interlocutor M.M Ansari, in an article, “Dialogue as Diversion”, published in the Indian Express, has stressed that In view of Sharma’s expertise in police services, it cannot be said that Sharma is mandated to facilitate “sustained dialogue” to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
The empty attempts of interlocution to bring peace have no takers in Kashmir. Kashmiris are now tired by these decorative promises. It needs serious commitments on the part of Government of India to construct a positive atmosphere for talks. Implement the productive recommendations instead of burying and concealing them. The burial of positive recommendations will lead to the burial of peace in the graveyard of violence.

The author holds a P.G in Mass Communication and Journalism and writes on various issues. He can be reached at: f.hussainsodagar@gmail.com.