J-K interlocutor must engage with separatists: Experts

NEW DELHI: Experts today said the Centre’s special representative for Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, must engage in a dialogue with separatists in the Kashmir Valley.

Last month, the Government had appointed the former Intelligence Bureau chief as its special representative for a “sustained dialogue” with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir.

In a five-day visit to the State, Sharma met political leaders, student groups, youths and a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits.

“My plea to the interlocutor will be to reach out to all sections. The point is that he (Sharma) must reach out and I would plead there must be a response (from the Hurriyat leadership),” Wajahat Habibullah, a former IAS officer of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre, said at an event today.

Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Kapil Kak asked why the Government or the interlocutor had not opened communication channels with the separatists yet.

“There is no communication with the All Party Hurriyat Conference either from the Centre or the interlocutor. The Government should be more sincere. I don’t see a mandate (for the dialogue process), don’t see a timeframe by when there should be a report,” Kak said.

Both Habibullah and Kak were part of a concerned citizens group led by former Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha that visited Kashmir last year in the aftermath of the violence following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.

They were speaking at an event organised by Congress leader Salman Khurshid’s Hind Bhartiyam Foundation.

“The problem of Kashmir is intrinsically linked to the idea of India and if we can’t ensure that a resolution is found for Jammu and Kashmir then the idea of India will be imperiled and irretrievably challenged,” Khurshid said.

Habibullah, however, said by appointing yet another interlocutor the Government was “moving in circles”.

“The irony is that the person who had shown the way in overcoming the cycle was in fact the last head of the last NDA Government. He announced that the resolution will come through ‘insaaniyat’. Why must we go through the entire cycle to arrive at the same conclusion,” Habibullah asked.

Sharma is the fourth interlocutor appointed by the Centre since 2002. The first one was former Union Minister K C Pant, the second N N Vohra, the present Governor of the State, and the last was a three-member panel comprising former bureaucrat M M Ansari, academician Radha Kumar and late journalist Dileep Padgaonkar.

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