Srinagar: A day after the Union government announced that it would start a dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir with all stakeholders, including separatists, the Hurriyat Conference on Tuesday rejected the peace talks offer.
In a move that displays the sheer hypocrisy of the Hurriyat, its senior leader Moulvi Abbas Ansari said that there can be no talks until Pakistan is made a part of the dialogue process.
Choosing Pakistan over peace, Ansari, who is considered to be one of the moderate voices of the separatist group, said they want a tripartite arrangement where Pakistan is included.
“Till the time all three parties sit together, the issue cannot be resolved,” he said, referring to the governments of India and Pakistan, and Kashmiris.
On Monday, in a sudden shift of its tough stand, the government announced talks with all stakeholders on Jammu and Kashmir and appointed former intelligence chief Dineshwar Sharma as its pointsman for the troubled state.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the move was to carry forward the “the conviction and consistency” in the government’s Kashmir policy.
“We have decided that a sustained dialogue process should begin in Jammu and Kashmir.”
The minister told a hurriedly-convened news conference here that Sharma had “complete freedom” to speak with whoever he wanted, indicating that talks with separatist leaders were also possible.
“As a representative of the Government of India, Sharma will initiate a sustained interaction and dialogue to understand legitimate aspirations of people in Jammu and Kashmir. He will meet elected representatives, political parties, different organisations and individuals he wants to.”
He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had talked to all political parties as to what could be done to find a solution to the Kashmir problem.
“People told us that the dialogue process should be started. We are doing this,” Rajnath Singh said and recalled the Prime Minister’s August 15 speech saying “neither by bullet, nor by abuses but by embracing the people we can solve the problems in Jammu and Kashmir”.
In his first reaction, Sharma said restoring peace in the valley was his top priority.
The measure is significant because the BJP government at the Centre had constantly maintained a tough line on opening peace talks with separatists in Kashmir, particularly after the 2016 unrest that left over 100 civilians dead.
Rajnath said after completing the exercise, Sharma, a 1979 batch IPS officer with intimate knowledge of the security situation and Kashmir affairs, will give a report to the central government.
There is no time frame for submitting the report. The Minister also didn’t speak about the terms of references for the ex-police officer who was the IB Director from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016.
The move came at a time when some separatist leaders, including close aides of Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq – are jailed on charges of receiving cash from Pakistan for subversive activities in the valley.
(With IANS inputs)