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Define ‘stakeholders’ for talks, demand Jammu and Kashmir political parties

Centre-appointed Dineshwar Sharma will talk to “all stakeholders” to solve the vexed Kashmir imbroglio.

india Updated: Oct 24, 2017 19:29 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
Paramilitary troopers stand guard after a gunfight with militants at Hajin village of Kashmir's Bandipora district, north of Srinagar.
Paramilitary troopers stand guard after a gunfight with militants at Hajin village of Kashmir's Bandipora district, north of Srinagar. (AFP File Photo)

Opposition parties in Jammu and Kashmir sought to know on Tuesday the broader contours of a dialogue and clear definition of stakeholders who would be included in the peace process for the insurgency-battered state.

The questions were raised after the Centre appointed former IB chief Dineshwar Sharma on Monday as its representative for talks with “all stakeholders” to solve the vexed Kashmir imbroglio. He will decide if he needs to speak to the hardline separatist group, Hurriyat Conference.

The Hurriyat, which calls itself a major stakeholder in the Kashmir dispute, reportedly rejected the peace talks. Its leader Moulvi Abbas Ansari reportedly said there can be no dialogue until Pakistan is made part of the process.

Read more: I will need to talk to everybody, says Kashmir interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma

The political parties were sceptical about the BJP’s move.

“There had been interlocutors in the past. It would have been apt had the BJP specifically defined stakeholders. Otherwise, it would be a cosmetic exercise,” state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir said.

He wondered why an interlocutor was appointed when the BJP had been rejecting steadfastly any dialogue with separatists.

Read more: Dineshwar Sharma as J&K interlocutor can build on the gains achieved in recent times

Mir said the exercise should be result-oriented. “If the government divulges the broader contours and adopts a serious approach it would bear results.”

State Congress vice president Sham Lal Sharma also asked the BJP to “decode” stakeholders.

He also expressed surprise over BJP’s move saying, “They had been all along saying that terror and talks cannot go simultaneously. Has terrorism ended and has the situation on borders turned normal? There has been an increase in the recruitment of local militants. And, the BJP had in the past endorsed Justice Sagheer committee report. It appears to be a hollow slogan.”

Panthers Party chairman and former education minister Harsh Dev Singh called the interlocutor’s appointment a policy about-turn of the government, which he alleged was all along professing the line that “talks and terror can’t go together”.

“The BJP needs to explain the change of heart … In the absence of contours and clarity over stakeholders it is just pure politics and nothing else,” Singh said.

Read more: Kashmir needs hugs, neither abuse nor bullets: PM Modi in Independence Day speech

He described the so-called shift in BJP strategy as a political ploy, probably because of assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

The National Conference, which ruled the state before the PDP-BJP combine wrested power two year ago, adopted a wait-and-watch approach.

The party’s working president and former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, tweeted: “Centre announces an interlocutor to engage with stakeholders in J&K. Will keep an open mind and wait to see results of the dialogue process.”

But former Sadr-e-Riyasat and senior Congress leader Karan Singh welcomed the appointment.

The Rajya Sabha member said there is no alternative to dialogue for solving the Kashmir crisis.