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Above: (Left) Farooq Abdullah and Dineshwar Sharma   

In an interesting shift from its hard-line stance on Kashmir, the BJP has now decided to resolve the Kashmir ongoing imbroglio through dialogues. The NDA government has appointed an ex-Intelligence Bureau Director Dineshwar Sharma as interlocutor for Kashmir. Sharma’s appointment was announced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday, October 23. Sharma wishes to have a “substantive dialogue” with all the stakeholders so as to bring peace to the Valley. Although it is not specific as to whom he wants to talk to but Sharma said that he is open to have a dialogue with “everyone who is interested in bringing permanent peace in Kashmir Valley”.

Declaring Dineshwar Sharma as Government of India’s representative, Rajnath Singh stated: “Dineshwar Sharma will hold talks with the elected government, political parties, different organisations and the people of Jammu and Kashmir and through a sustained dialogue he will understand their legitimate aspirations.”

Farooq Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir and the National Conference chief has suggested that the interlocutor should also talk to Pakistan over resolving the Kashmir issue.  “The Kashmir issue is a political problem. It is not only talking to people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, they have to talk to Pakistan also. Pakistan is also one of the parties to the problems of the state,” said Abdullah.

Kashmir is the third state where Dineshwar Sharma would be appointed as an interlocutor with Assam and Manipur being the other two. His experience in handling militancy would come handy as Sharma has seen the worst phase of militancy in Kashmir. He has served as an Intelligence Officer for two years in the state from 1992 to 1994. With the previous reports of the earlier appointed interlocutors lying idle, it is to be seen how fruitful will be Sharma’s appointment.

The most probable stakeholders that Sharma will have to talk to would be Kashmiri youth. At a time when the Hurriyat is struggling to maintain its relevance in the Valley and the lesser importance that they have been getting by the people in the recent days, it is important for Sharma to create trust in the Kashmir youth. The constant NIA operations against the separatist leaders have made a dent on their hold in the Valley with top leaders such as Masrat Alam Bhat being in prison whereas the others under a constant fear of being arrested.

Despite a weakened Hurriyat, the anti-India protests have not stopped because the youth of Kashmir are agitated and are joining militancy. It has increased ever since the death of militant leader Burhan Wani. The counter-insurgency operations carried out by the government over the recent past has resulted in the death of over 100 militants. However, this has not resulted in any positive outcome — instead it has generated more anger in the youth. The increasing military operations in Kashmir, use of pellet guns and human shields have created more anti-India sentiments among the youth. Therefore to bring peace to the valley, it is important for Sharma to engage in dialogues with the local youth of Kashmir and restoring the students union in the state.

—India Legal Bureau

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