'Will Talk To Everyone Who's Interested In Permanent Peace': Kashmir Interlocutor

'I sincerely hope that I would be able to engage people there in dialogue,' the government's special representative for Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, said

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'Will Talk To Everyone Who's Interested In Permanent Peace': Kashmir Interlocutor

Rajnath Singh announced last month that Dineshwar Sharma would be the Kashmir interlocutor.

New Delhi:  The government's special representative for Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, is ready to start his 'Mission Kashmir' on Monday. "I sincerely hope that I would be able to engage people there in dialogue," the former Intelligence Bureau director told NDTV. He was appointed special representative on October 23 in a clear indication that the centre was willing to reboot its Kashmir policy.

Soon after, Mr Sharma had told NDTV that he was "hopeful" for Kashmir and would talk to "everyone who is interested in bringing permanent peace in the Valley".

Though the government has not defined the "mandate" for Mr Sharma, the statements of Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi definitely have.

While Mr Singh has announced that the government is serious about engaging people in the Valley, he has categorically outlined that only those who had "legal aspirations" would be engaged. PM Modi's remarks that those seeking autonomy are enemies of the country also seemed to have drawn a line for the special representative.

The Prime Minister was responding to former Home Minister P Chidambaram who had said that most people in Jammu and Kashmir want autonomy. Even the opposition National Conference came out openly and supported Mr Chidambaram by demanding autonomy.

But Mr Sharma still hopes that political parties would help him. "Public posturing is one thing but everyone is aware of the facts. And since all want peace in the Valley, I am hoping all parties would cooperate," he told NDTV.

Mr Sharma would be getting Z-plus security in the Valley as there could be protests when he reaches Srinagar.

"In the last 10 months, the Valley has seen a new protest for different reason every month," said a senior official who asked not to be named. He said sometimes the Valley shuts down in support of terrorists and sometimes even against police teams when they are still engaging terrorists in a live operation.

"Policemen and their families have been targeted. Civilians have been killed. In last two months many political workers have been killed too," the official said.

The Valley has seen violent protests in the first few months this year too, with schools remaining shut and students joining street protests. More recently protests have broken out over the issue of Article 35A which allows the government to issue certificates to long-time residents of the state. The 'braid chopping' scare also led to violence. Every new issue has been keeping the security forces busy in the Valley.

It is in such a situation that Mr Sharma is stepping in and it would be an uphill task for the special representative to get things going. Mr Sharma said he hopes that he would be able to make a difference.

"It's my first visit. I will speak to everyone who is interested in the future of Kashmir," he said.
 

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