In a major decision Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has announced that the Centre had decided to start a sustained dialogue on Jammu & Kashmir. Former Intelligence Bureau Director Dineshwar Sharma will initiate dialogue with elected representatives of the state, political parties, different organisations and residents of the state, Singh said.
Sharma is an officer from the 1979 Indian Police Service batch. The former director will attempt to understand the “legitimate aspirations of people in Jammu and Kashmir”.
After his appointment, he told ANI his priority was to restore peace in the state and find a permanent solution to the crisis. Sharma’s rank will be equivalent to that of a cabinet secretary.
The announcement on initiating a dialogue in J&K comes at a time when at least ten separatist leaders have been raided and arrested by the National Investigation Agency and Enforcement Directorate for their alleged involvement in suspicious transactions. Those arrested include Altaf Shah alias Fantoosh, son-in-law of Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, and businessman Zahoor Watali.
J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and leaders of mainstream political parties Monday welcomed Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s announcement on the initiation of a dialogue process in the state but the separatists remained silent, offering no immediate reaction. At least ten separatist leaders have been arrested by central agencies for their alleged involvement in suspicious transactions.
Mehbooba Mufti, who has always been advocating talks with separatists and Pakistan, welcomed the Centre’s initiative and said stakeholders should consider this as an opportunity and start a dialogue as it is the need of the time.
Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference Patron, Farooq Abdullah suggested that he talk with Pakistan as well. “The Kashmir issue is a political problem. It is not only talking to people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, they have to talk to Pakistan also. Pakistan is also one of the parties to the problems of the state,” the National Conference chief stated.