New Delhi: The Minister for Home Rajnath Singh on Monday announced that the government was in favour of a sustained dialogue with various stakeholders in the Kashmir Valley to restore peace.
However, separatist group Hurriyat may not take part in the discussion to bring normalcy to conflict-ridden state, Wajahat Habibullah, the IAS officer who served as the Divisional Commissioner of nine districts in Jammu and Kashmir, told News18.
"It is possible that Hurriyat may not participate as the pressure on its leadership, mounted by young people, is to not enter any dialogue," he said.
The government declared that it was going ahead with a dialogue process in which the former Intelligence Bureau (IB) Director, Dineshwar Sharma, will lead talks on the behalf of the government.
Rajnath said that the Centre will “address legitimate apprehensions of the state populace, and try to restore peace in the valley”.
However, Habibullah said that “it wasn't like people are dying to get into a dialogue there.”
"They want a dialogue with someone who, they think, is listening to them," he said, adding that to start a dialogue, "Hurriyat also needed some kind of incentive".
Seventeen years ago, in 2000, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had led an all-party delegation to the valley to take stock of the ground reality. Vajpayee declared Ramzan ceasefire and had a dialogue with the representatives of Hizbul Mujahideen.
Later, in April 2001, the Vajpayee-led government appointed former Union Minister KC Pant as its interlocutor for peace talks with Kashmiris, but the then undivided Hurriyat conference refused to meet Pant.
However, Pant had then asked Habibullah to help him interact with the Hurriyat, and separatist Shabir Shah was only to meet them.
“KC Pant had tried to involve me in the matter with Hurriyat, and it was only Shabir Shah who had responded. The fact remains that even at that time, the initiative was taken at the level of Mr. Vajpayee himself who had first appointed the former editor of the Patriot, Mr. RK Mishra, as the interlocutor on an informal basis," the first Chief Information Commissioner said.
Habibullah added that Mishra made considerable headway, and he met with the Hurriyat leadership and they had come up with a solution in which they were allowed to travel up to the LOC.
Habibullah expressed surprise at the appointment of former IB director, Dineshwar Sharma, as the interlocutor by Narendra Modi government in Jammu and Kashmir, saying, “Hope the government has done its homework as Mr. Dineshwar Sharma, who has no experience of Jammu and Kashmir, has been appointed."
"If you ask me whether the process will work or not, I don't think it will work out. I hope there will be some response, but it is quite possible that frustrated with the fact that there has been no movement forward, people like Mirwaiz may not respond,” said the former chairperson of the National Commission of Minorities.
Sharma was earlier made the interlocutor for peace talks with Assam’s insurgent groups, including the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) in June this year. It’s not clear at the moment if Sharma will be relieved of his assignment in Assam owing to the latest task he has entrusted with.