RAJNATH SINGH’S KASHMIR VISIT: TALKS OFFER OR REITERATION OF DEADLOCK?

  • JAVAID MALIK
  • Publish Date: Oct 29 2018 2:38AM
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  • Updated Date: Oct 29 2018 2:43AM
RAJNATH SINGH’S KASHMIR VISIT: TALKS OFFER OR REITERATION  OF DEADLOCK?File Photo

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has once again reiterated that the Government of India is ready to hold talks with all but has maintained that parleys and violence can’t go together. It’s not for the first time that Union Home Minister has said that New Delhi is ready for talks. He has repeated it on many occasions. When he visited Kashmir in June this year, Singh had said: “The GoI wants to find an amicable solution to the Kashmir imbroglio through talks with all stakeholders.”

He had said that a dialogue needed “right-minded people” and not necessarily “like-minded people” to go well.  “Talks can be held with everybody. But talks should be for peace. For talks, you need not to speak to like-minded people but it is important to talk to right-minded people,” Singh had said.  He had come to J&K on a two day visit on June 7, 2018, just a few days before Bharatiya Janata Party decided to pull out from the PDP led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir.    

The Peoples Democratic Party, which was leading the coalition government in J&K at that point of time, projected Singh’s talks offer to all the sections of the society as a “golden opportunity” and tried to persuade the separatist leadership in Kashmir to join the process and not to “miss the bus.”    

Despite hype being created about the talks offer, contours of the dialogue process were not spelled out and the process came to halt just within a few days as the BJP pulled out from the PDP led government in Jammu and Kashmir. Since then state has been under Governor’s rule and holding talks with anyone has been a foregone conclusion. 

Since the day Governor’s rule has been imposed in the state Central government’s special representative Dineshwar Sharma has also taken a back seat. When PDP-BJP was ruling the state Sharma used to visit J&K quite often and meet people but he couldn’t break the ice and meet the separatist leaders. It looks like that Sharma, a former Director of Intelligence Bureau, also realized that talks have to be held with the people who are relevant and entering into negotiations with the people who don’t matter won’t serve any purpose.

An analyst while talking to the Kashmir Ink said that since the day PDP-BJP government has fallen in J&K, New Delhi has even sidelined the mainstream parties. “The Kashmir based parties National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party have been ignored. The decision of these parties to boycott the municipal and panchayat polls annoyed New Delhi and the municipal polls were held without their participation.”   

He said that the first and foremost task which New Delhi has to accomplish at present is that it has to once again bring the mainstream parties on board and convince them that no such step would be taken which could put them in a difficult situation.  

The Union Home Minister even hinted at the possibility about Centre not tinkering with the Article 35-A, which provides special privileges to the permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir. “The Centre has not tinkered with the provision in constitution (Article 35A). If somebody wants to make an issue out of a non-issue what can we say,” Rajnath Singh said. 

Provincial president of National Conference Nasir Aslam Wani while talking to the Kashmir Ink said that New Delhi’s Kashmir policy is “ambiguous.” “We have been hearing this talks rhetoric for long.  But the fact is that nothing has changed on the ground. It’s unfortunate that BJP has shrunk the space even for the mainstream parties in Kashmir. The GoI should first hold talks with us about restoring J&K’s autonomy, which was guaranteed by the constitution.” The NC leader said, “New Delhi has to put a sincere effort to end the crisis in Kashmir. People sitting in Delhi cannot just close their eyes and ignore the ground realities. They have to make a beginning to restore peace in the Valley.” 

It looks like that the Kashmiri leaders have lost faith in the “institution of dialogue,” most of them have started believing that talks offer is nothing but a “tactic” just to pass time. “New Delhi is not interested in crossing the line. It wants Kashmiri leaders to fall in the line and follow the dictations,” said a politician. “New Delhi’s policy is clear that Kashmir has to be dealt as a law and order problem and political aspects need no discussion,” he added. 

Senior CPI(M) leader and MLA Kulgam M  Y Tarigami said that the Government of India should define “Who is this anybody they want to talk to?” “Till now anybody means nobody. New Delhi knows the voices with whom they have to talk in Kashmir, but intentionally they are avoiding the dialogue,” Tarigami said. He said, “Reality is that there is no way out but dialogue. It is really painful to see killings happening everyday in Kashmir. But unfortunately, New Delhi is watching all this like a mute spectator and is in no mood to solve the problems through a dialogue.”

Chief spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party Rafi Mir said that New Delhi has to deal with Jammu and Kashmir on priority. “The Government of India cannot wait for situation to improve. The GoI should hold talks with Pakistan without any pre-conditions. If the people sitting in New Delhi just keep on waiting for violence to end then they would have to wait for other 30 years,” Rafi Mir told the Kashmir Ink. The PDP leader said that Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik is claiming that youth have come forward and have proved their mettle by taking part in the recently held municipal polls. “My question to Governor Malik is if youth are coming forward to become a part of the active politics then why they are picking up the guns?” he asked.

Many people in Kashmir are of the opinion that hardliners in the country are opposing the dialogue process and they don’t want any process that would favour resolution of all the contentious issues through talks and negotiations. “There is a bleak possibility about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as situation in Kashmir is far from normal. No talks can be held till hardliners sitting in New Delhi soften their stand and acknowledge the ground realities,” said a Kashmir watcher.