Dineshwar Sharma’s appointment as an interlocutor raises some pertinent questions
Srinagar: Appointment of former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as interlocutor for Kashmir to hold talks with stakeholders came as a surprise. The reason being that for last three years Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government at the Centre has adopted a hawkish policy on Kashmir, and all of a sudden it changed to a softer approach. In the policy till now, there was no room for dialogue. Now, the big question being asked here is, whether it is a departure from the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) policy or a mere farce?
Union home minister Rajnath Singh, while announcing the appointment of the interlocutor on Kashmir, tried to assure that it was a sincere initiative on the part of government. But many in Kashmir and even outside regard it as cynicism on the part of the BJP-led government.
Earlier such initiatives were taken by successive governments at the Centre but they were left midway. Former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee appointed two interlocutors, K.C. Pant and N.N. Vohra, one after the other but to no avail.
Then came a non-governmental panel, headed by noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani. It was well-received by the separatist leadership, but failed to yield anything.
Former PM Manmohan Singh chaired a round-table conference in Srinagar that set up five working groups to study the political, economic and other aspects of the problem. They prepared a detailed report but the report was not acted upon.
And after the summer unrest of 2010, a three-member group of interlocutors, led by veteran journalist late Dileep Padgaonkar was sent to Kashmir. Their report has been gathering dust for years. Now, the BJP-led government has appointed another interlocutor.
One reason for the appointment of an interlocutor could be that the BJP has realised that the Kashmir issue can’t be resolved through military means and a dialogue is the only way out. The other reason could be to hoodwink Indians as well as the world.
As far as resolving Kashmir militarily is concerned, it has been done for nearly three decades now and there have been no results. In fact, adopting military tactics in Kashmir has led to more hatred and alienation.
If the military had been the solution, then the number of militants would have come down significantly. But that has not been the case. Initially, there were around 10,000 militants in early Nineties and with successful military operations the numbers dwindled over the years, and at one time they came down to double figures, but for a while now the situation has not improved on the ground.
Since 2008, when Kashmir witnessed the first major street protests, such protests have become a common trend now. Hundreds of ordinary civilians, including children and women, have been killed in security forces and police firing. Of late, there’s a growing trend of civilians keeping security forces engaged during gun battles to help militants flee.
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