Kashmiri separatist leaders have not responded positively to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement that the central government was ready to hold talks with them.
"It is nothing more than mere rhetoric. It is aimed to hoodwink the international community," Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group, said on Tuesday, a day after the prime minister's offer of talks at a press conference to mark the first year of the second tenure of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
The prime minister had said the government was ready for dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir if separatists shed violence.
"I would like to appeal to all the groups outside the political mainstream that our government is ready for dialogue if they shed violence," he said.
"Honestly speaking, there is nothing new about the statement," the Mirwaiz said.
Hardline senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani reacted even more sharply. "India is not serious in resolving the Kashmir problem. Who is responsible for the violence in Kashmir? It is the Indian security forces, not us."
"Until India accepts Kashmir as a dispute, we will not enter into any form of dialogue with them," he reiterated.
Some mainstream politicians said that statements blaming the separatists for violence could increase the trust deficit between New Delhi and Kashmir.
Reacting to the statement made by the prime minister, Miraz Mehboob Beg, senior ruling National Conference (NC) leader and Lok Sabha member representing Anantnag constituency, said: "It has been officially stated that there has been a drastic improvement in the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir."
"Protests during the recent months have been by far and large peaceful," he said.
"We are going round and round. You cannot be holding a dialogue today and backtracking on it tomorrow. India must act on the recommendations of the working groups on Kashmir and that would reduce the trust deficit between Kashmir and New Delhi," he said.
Muhammad Yusuf Tarigami, the state general secretary of Communist Party of India-Marxist has, however, described the prime minister's dialogue offer to the separatists as timely.
"We appeal to the separatist leaders to rise to the occasion and come forward to join the dialogue process," Tarigami said in Srinagar on Monday.