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Talks With Hurriyat? Jitendra Singh Drops Big Hint for Dineshwar Sharma, Modi's New Man in Kashmir

MoS for PMO Dr Jitendra Singh says there is no question of speaking to those who indulge in violence.

Arunima | CNN-News18Arunima24

Updated:October 23, 2017, 9:30 PM IST
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Talks With Hurriyat? Jitendra Singh Drops Big Hint for Dineshwar Sharma, Modi's New Man in Kashmir
File photo of Minister of State for PMO Dr Jitendra Singh. (PTI)
New Delhi: Soon after Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced on Monday that former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma will represent government of India to hold talks with all stakeholders in Kashmir, Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office Dr Jitendra Singh said there was no question of speaking to those who indulge in violence.

Rajnath Singh said a “sustained dialogue” with all stakeholders in Kashmir will be held to address their “legitimate concerns”. When asked if Sharma will speak to separatists, including Hurriyat, Home Minister said “un par koi bandish nahi lagayi gayi hai (There are no restrictions on him).”

However, when asked about dialogue with Hurriyat, Jitendra Singh said, “How can you speak to people who indulge in violence and hawala transactions?” MoS for PMO clarified that talks with Kashmiris will be held within the framework of the Constitution. “Constitution is sacrosanct,” he said clarifying the broad framework of dialogue.

When News18 spoke to AS Dulat, former Research and Analysis Wing chief and advisor to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Kashmir, he said Sharma should not only speak to Hurriyat but also Pakistan, just like Vajpayee did.

“Of course, we need to talk to Pakistan also. When it comes to Pakistan, we say that we will only talk when terror stops. It is a justified, logical and right demand. But we have been engaging with Pakistan amid terror attacks also. Modi went on a Christmas to Pakistan and the previous governments have also talked to them. Why stop dialogue? Let’s admit that Pakistan is a factor in Kashmir. And as far as the Kashmiris are concerned, everyone there knows that Kashmir is not going anywhere. It is staying with India. So talking to Pakistan is not going to worsen India’s position in the valley,” Dulat said.

Similarly, Radha Kumar, who was one of India’s three interlocutors on J&K said government should hold talks with open mind. She said Hurriyat leaders are ‘absolutely essential’ for talks. “There are many issues at hand. Alienation and anger are the two biggest problems in the Valley. Whatever is required to make sure that these feelings go away must be done immediately. And militancy. All these need to be discussed in detail and Hurriyat must be involved.”

The NDA government, however, has maintained so far that talks with separatists were out of question. The National investigation Agency in its probe of terror funding has arrested Hurriyat leaders, including son in law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Rajnath Singh said that NIA probe would be independent of the dialogue process.

When asked, Dineshwar Sharma told News18 he was yet to decide whom to talk to. “This is a big responsibility. I am thankful and will try and live up to expectations of the government and of Kashmiris,” he said.

“The Home Minister has made it clear that all stakeholders will be talked to. I will go to Kashmir and then decide. Immediate priority is for peace to prevail in Kashmir,” he said.

Opposition leaders across the political spectrum have welcomed Center’s move. While some like former Home Minister P Chidambaram called it “a realisation that muscular policy won’t work in Kashmir,” other have called the dialogue a U-turn by Modi government.

Three different set of interlocutors have submitted their reports on Kashmir to the government in the past but nothing has been implemented so far. Top government sources said Modi government found Dileep Padgaonkar-led committee’s report ‘full of contradictions’.

“Dialogue at this point is a well thought out decision,” a top government source said. “We have cut off the money from Pakistan. Brought down stone pelting, so now is the best time to talk to genuine stakeholders like Kashmiri youth who want Kashmir to develop,” the source said.

No timeframe has been set for the interlocutor to submit the report.
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