Twenty-five years after his first posting in Kashmir for the Intelligence Bureau (IB), former IB chief Dineshwar Sharma was on Monday appointed the Centre’s special representative in Jammu and Kashmir. His task is to “initiate a sustained interaction and dialogue” for peace in the Valley and to understand the legitimate aspirations of a cross-section of the society in the state. Sharma told The Indian Express that it is a “huge responsibility” and he hopes to fulfill the expectation of the government and the people.
Asked whether he would talk to separatist groups in the Valley, Sharma said, “We want to see how the Hurriyat responds. I have not thought about it as of now but the Home Minister has already said that we are ready to speak to all stakeholders.” He said the modalities are being worked out, and he would like to talk to everyone who is interested in bringing permanent peace in the Valley.
The 1979-batch Kerala cadre officer, who was posted in Kashmir as an assistant director of IB between 1992 and 1994, headed the Bureau from 2014 to 2016. Apart from J&K, he has served in UP, Nagaland and Manipur, and as additional director and special director in IB in the headquarters. After his return from the Valley in 1994, Sharma was posted at the Kashmir desk of the Bureau in the national capital.
Sharma is known to have in-depth understanding of security-related matters and has worked closely for a long time with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. His elevation as IB chief came as a surprise since the then J&K DGP, Ashok Prasad, had been a frontrunner for the post.
The 61-year-old, who is at present the Centre’s points person for dialogue with Assam-based militant groups, is known to have spent a long time on the political desk. He was also instrumental in formulating a government policy towards tackling the Islamic State (IS) and the threat of radicalisation of young Muslims in India. It was under Sharma’s insistence that the government took a “calibrated approach” and stalled further radicalisation through the IS. Instead of ordering the arrest of these youths, Sharma is known to have encouraged counselling and building confidence of parents of these radicalised young men.