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India appoints new interlocutor for Kashmir: Will it help?

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News Analysis |

India appointed a special envoy for Kashmir on October 23, 2017. The man who is said to be “the central government’s representative” to initiate dialogue with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir is Dineshwar Sharma. Dineshwar Sharma, a 1979-batch (retired) Indian Police Service officer of Kerala cadre, served as the director of Intelligence Bureau (IB) between December 2014 and 2016.

He has worked with the National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval during his earlier stint as IB chief, also serving in Nagaland, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi and Lucknow in various capacities. Rajnath Singh, Indian Home Minister, and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader, stated while he was making an announcement of special envoy’s appointment that his party was interested to start a sustained dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) with an aim to bring peace to the valley.

A well-intended sustained political dialogue among the people of Kashmir, Pakistan, and India is the only way forward to restore peace and order in Kashmir.

“As a representative of Government of India (GoI), Dinesh Sharma will initiate sustained interaction and dialogue to understand legitimate aspirations of people in J&K,” the minister said. On Monday, October 6th, when India’s new interlocutor arrived in Srinagar on a five-day visit “to hold talks with all the stakeholders”, dozens of Kashmiri activists staged an anti-India rally.

Read more: India agrees to hold talks with Kashmiri leaders. Why?

The protesters maintained that the appointment of a new interlocutor was nothing more than a political tactic to present a ‘friendly and peaceful face of India’ before the world. “In fact, this hollow and delusive move is directed at hoodwinking the international community at a time when efforts to expose Indian brutalities and duplicities across the world have picked up,” Uzair Ahmed Ghazali, the chief of Pasban-e-Hurriyat Jammu Kashmir (PHJK) stated.

The PHJK went on saying that “ironically, India’s track-record holds testimony to the bitter reality that she has always used dialogue – either with Pakistan or with the Kashmiris – as a tactic to buy time,”. The appointment of interlocutors for dialogue to bring peace in Kashmir is neither new nor so surprising for the people of Kashmir.

According to multiple reports, the Modi-led Indian Government used force in Kashmir indiscriminately and has greatly disappointed the natives of the valley.

This is the fourth interlocutor appointed by Indian government since 2002. Former Union minister Krishna Chandra Pant and the present governor of the state (Jammu and Kashmir) Narinder Nath Vohra were first and second interlocutors respectively. A three-member panel comprising of former bureaucrat MM Ansari, academic Radha Kumar and late journalist Dileep Padgaonka was the third time when Indian government wanted to restore peace in the valley but remained unable to achieve it.

Read more: Unrest in Indian held Kashmir

The three-member panel suggested the Indian Government to revoke Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Kashmir Public Safety Act (KSA) which give security agencies a “license to kill” Kashmiri youth and innocent kids. Even professionals (educationists, journalists and other officers) are not spared from the selective and politically-motivated enforcement of this ‘black law’. The Indian government, however, didn’t take these suggestions of the panel seriously.

The appointment of interlocutors for dialogue to bring peace in Kashmir is neither new nor so surprising for the people of Kashmir.

Prime Minister Modi is facing severe criticism over his harsh Kashmir policy equally at both the domestic and international level. Indian prominent politicians such as National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah and Congress leader P. Chidambaram have warned that India is “losing Kashmir” because of its “muscular policy”.

Read more: Changing Kashmir’s demography: India’s tactics to win Kashmir

Therefore, political commentators believe, the appointment of a new interlocutor is an attempt at damage control. According to multiple reports, the Modi-led Indian Government used force in Kashmir indiscriminately and has greatly disappointed the natives of the valley. There exists a greater level of trust deficit between Indian establishment and the people of Kashmir. Holding talks with token-representatives and biased Kashmir-based analysts won’t be fruitful.

India needs to gain the trust of the people of Kashmir and involve Pakistan for ensuring sustained political stability in the valley. Pakistan has always been a great supporter of Kashmiris’ right to self-determination. A well-intended sustained political dialogue among the people of Kashmir, Pakistan, and India is the only way forward to restore peace and order in Kashmir.


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