Administrator of Lakshadweep Dineshwar Sharma passed away at a Chennai hospital on Friday at the age of 66 due to lung-related complications. Sharma, a former director of the Intelligence Bureau, was an interlocutor for the Centre to Jammu and Kashmir prior to his appointment as the administrator of Lakshadweep in October 2019.
"Shri Dineshwar Sharma who was admitted at MGM healthcare on 25th November for interstitial lung disease on ECMO support, suffered severe bleeding due to intra cerebral hemorrhage. We regret to inform that he passed away at 2:40 pm," the hospital said in a statement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and defence minister Rajnath Singh condoled the demise of the 1979 batch IPS officer of Kerala cadre.
"Administrator of Lakshadweep Shri Dineshwar Sharma Ji made long lasting contributions to India's policing and security apparatus. He handled many sensitive counter terror and insurgency ops during his policing career. Anguished by his demise. Condolences to his family. Om Shanti," Modi tweeted.
Administrator of Lakshadweep Shri Dineshwar Sharma Ji made long lasting contributions to India’s policing and security apparatus. He handled many sensitive counter terror and insurgency ops during his policing career. Anguished by his demise. Condolences to his family. Om Shanti.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 4, 2020
In his tweet, Shah said: "Deeply anguished to learn about the passing away of Administrator of Lakshadweep Shri Dineshwar Sharma ji. He served the nation with utmost devotion as a dedicated officer of the Indian Police Service. My heartfelt condolences to his family in this hour of grief. Om Shanti".
Deeply anguished to learn about the passing away of Administrator of Lakshadweep Shri Dineshwar Sharma ji. He served the nation with utmost devotion as a dedicated officer of the Indian Police Service. My heartfelt condolences to his family in this hour of grief. Om Shanti.— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) December 4, 2020
श्री दिनेश्वर शर्मा एक कुशल प्रशासक एवं सुरक्षा से जुड़े मुद्दों के बेहद अच्छे जानकर थे। पुलिस सेवा में उनका कार्यकाल बेदाग़ और उपलब्धियों से भरा था। कश्मीर में शांति स्थापना के लिए उनकी सेवाओं को याद किया जाएगा।उनके निधन से मुझे दुःख हुआ है। उनके परिवार के प्रति मेरी संवेदनाएँ।— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) December 4, 2020
Sharma who had first qualified for the Indian Forest Service was originally from Bihar. He completed primary education in Bihar’s Pali village and graduated later in Gaya.
He joined the Intelligence Bureau as assistant director in January 1991. He served in the north east, in the political intelligence gathering ‘X Branch’ and, most importantly, in Kashmir. His junior officials remembered him as a "practical and straight-forward man”.
A junior who did not wish to be named told News18 that even after being appointed Lakshadweep administrator, Sharma kept up the habit of sending personalised notes to his subordinates on their achievements. "It speaks volumes about a man if he treats his seniors and juniors with equal respect," the official said.
Sharma was the head of state Intelligence Bureau of Uttar Pradesh when Rajnath Singh was the chief minister of the state. He also shared a good equation with NSA Ajit Doval, both being from the Kerala cadre.
Sharma was appointed Jammu and Kashmir interlocutor in October 2017. Officials who had worked with Sharma in J&K said he approached the job with full vigour. "He would go to the house of anyone who mattered and who was willing to talk, be it seperatists, politicians, civil society groups," an IB official told News18.
A CRPF officer from the Valley said, "Often we would warn him about his security but he didn't bother much. He preferred going in his own car, minus the security paraphernalia, to meet people."
Sharma is credited with the amnesty scheme for youngsters booked for stone pelting and the Ramzan ceasefire that the Narendra Modi government announced in 2018. As per official figures, during the month of Ramzan (May 17 -June 17, 2018), 117 incidents of stone-pelting were reported, almost half of the incidents in the same period a year later. But Sharma's push for a more liberal approach soon lost favour in New Delhi.
Valley politicians Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti also expressed shock at Sharma’s sudden demise.
Dineshwar Sharma Sb was a wise & sensible man who understood Kashmir. Unfortunately he was an interlocutor for a government that wasn’t interested in listening but that isn’t a reflection of either his efforts or his abilities. I’m sorry to hear of his untimely demise. May he RIP— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) December 4, 2020
Shocked & saddened by the sudden demise of Dineshwar Sharma ji. He was a thorough gentleman & as an interlocutor tried his best to restore bridges of trust & goodwill between people of J&K & rest of the nation.— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) December 4, 2020
Rajiv Mehrishi who worked closely with Sharma as the Union home secretary told News18: "Dineshwar was the finest colleague I have worked with. Competent, understated, pleasant, positive, unhesitating in stating the truth, and a true patriot. Extremely saddened and shocked to lose him so young."