In refusing to enter into a dialogue with the all-party delegation, the Hurriyat has missed out on a chance to bring peace to the Valley and, more importantly, discuss the future of Kashmir. This is not the first time that such a thing has happened. In 2010, when the Centre formed a team of interlocutors to talk to parties and people across the political spectrum, the team succeeded in reaching out to all except the Hurriyat. Seven years before that, in 2003 too, the Hurriyat had refused to meet another team of interlocutors that the Vajpayee government had sent. But when some moderate Hurriyrat leaders did meet then deputy prime minister LK Advani in January 2004, some hopes of a breakthrough were generated but they gradually ebbed away because of the divisions with the Hurriyat itself, with the hardliners accusing the moderates of “giving in”.
This time the problem was further complicated because of the inability of the all-party delegation to do things in a united manner. Some leaders of different parties trying to meet the Hurriyat would not make much sense if they are not accompanied by the person leading the delegation. Some questions remain in this context: Did the all-party delegation do its homework before undertaking the visit regarding the strategy and content of its visit? Was any effort made to reach out to the Hurriyat prior to the visit so that it could at least be kept aware that a team from New Delhi was coming? Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti did not help matters by inviting the Hurriyat for talks in her capacity as the chief of her party, the Peoples Democratic Party, and not as chief minister. Such a position can only add confusion to an already volatile situation.
As of now the situation in Kashmir has not moved an inch from what it was in 2010. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India that has a constitution of its own. In 1952 there was an agreement between the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir on the extent of jurisdiction New Delhi would have in the state. The 2010 team of interlocutors in its report had said: “We recommend that a Constitutional Committee (CC) be set up to review all Central Acts and Articles of the Constitution of India extended to the State after the signing of the 1952 Agreement.” No progress has been made since then. And this visit had generated hopes of a turnaround in the situation. But it ended in a fiasco.