Insights into Editorial: There can be no solution under the shadow of the gun: Dineshwar Sharma.
The special representative will initiate dialogue in Kashmir on what led to unrest in the Valley and the way forward.
On October 23, Home Minister announced the appointment of former Intelligence Bureau (IB) chief Dineshwar Sharma as a special representative to “initiate” and “carry forward a dialogue” with elected representatives and various individuals in Jammu and Kashmir.
J & K Valley’s prolonged anti-India protest; rising insurgency in Kashmir, intense counter- insurgency operation has caused acute distress in the region. Demand for the political outreach emerged to prevent radicalisation of local youth which is the topmost concern for the Indian security establishment.
Prime Minister mentioned in his Independence Day declaration that ‘Neither by bullet nor by abuses but only by an embrace we can solve the problem of Kashmir’.
Tasks ahead for the Interlocutor:
- He will have rank equivalent to a Cabinet Secretary and complete independence in deciding who to hold talks with.
- He is likely to hold talks with mainstream local political workers of the PDP, National Conference and Congress, heads of various religious seminaries in the Valley, local student unions etc.
- He would try to know how things are panning out on the ground for and against India and try to understand the legitimate aspirations of the people of the state.
What is the Centre’s intention behind the talks?
The government is in no hurry to talk to the separatists and would like to approach the Kashmiri people directly through various other organisations.
- It is obvious that the government and everyone else want peace in Kashmir.
- It (peace) should be durable. It cannot prevail for a few months and be disrupted by violence three years later.
- The focus is on bringing permanent peace in the Kashmir Valley.
- Sharma will initiate a ‘sustained interaction and dialogue to understand the legitimate aspirations of the wide cross sections of society, particularly the youth in Jammu and Kashmir and communicate them to the state government and the Centre.
What about on-going security operations?
As many as 248 operations by security forces have been conducted this year, which is the highest in the past seven years. It was said that this would also contribute to peace.
- The actions of security forces are there to counter the actions of terrorists or armed groups.
- Permanent solution and peace can only be brought about by dialogue.
What escalated the unrest in J&K?
- Radicalisation played a major role, though its impact was felt in other parts of the country as well, as several men were arrested for being inspired by the Islamic State.
- Brainwashing via the Internet played a key role.
- Poor and Unemployed youth can easily be targeted by radicalists.
- It was a concerted effort by some to radicalise the youth to spread violence.
- It’s been closely watched and took several steps to ensure that the youth don’t fall for such propaganda.
What is the immediate measure needed in J&K?
- The guns of terrorists should fall silent.
- At the same time, Security forces should not harass ordinary Kashmiris.
- They should not be targeting innocent people.
- Security forces should have the confidence of the people living in the State.
Reports of previously appointed interlocutors on J&K issue.
From 2000, this is the fourth interlocutor appointed by Centre.
The first one was done by Vajpayee government when former Union Minister KC Pant was named. The second effort was when NN Vohra was entrusted with the job (who is incidentally the Governor of the state currently). The third one was done in 2010 by UPA government when a three-member committee (of Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar, and MM Ansari) went to Kashmir as interlocutors.
- In the case of KC Pant, he failed to achieve much as none of the separatists except Shabir Shah talked to him. The Hurriyat Conference played spoilsport with its demand for getting Pakistan also part of the talks.
- In 2002, the Kashmir committee was formed to reach out to all stakeholders in the Valley. As an informal committee, it managed to meet the separatists but didn’t result in any tangible results.
- In 2003, the Indian government appointed NN Vohra as their new point person in the Valley. It was pretty much the repetition of the old story. However, Vohra managed to get the moderates of the Hurriyat for talks but they were not fruitful.
- Later, the five working groups on strengthening relations across the Line of Control, confidence-building measures across segments of society in the state including detainees, economic development, ensuring good governance and centre-state relations submitted their report but their recommendations were not acted upon.
- The committee headed by Padgaonkar suggested in their final report in 2012 among other steps review of AFSPA, talks with Hurriyat and setting up of the constitutional committee. The government has not yet taken any decisions on the report. Incidentally, the separatists stayed away from talks with the panel also.
The representative is meant to have a sustained dialogue to understand the legitimate needs of the cross-section of society in J&K, and then communicate them to the state and central governments.
A Kashmir dialogue is a minefield that will have to be negotiated by Sharma as consensus needs to be built on common issues while avoiding the contentious legacy issues of the past.