Kashmiri separatist leaders on Tuesday said the appointment of former IB chief Dineshwar Sharma as the Centre’s representative was nothing more than time-buying tactic “adopted under international pressure and regional compulsions”. Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, head of moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yasin Malik issued a joint statement in Srinagar, giving their first reaction eight days after Sharma’s appointment was announced.
They said that Sharma’s assertion that he is coming to Kashmir with the directive from Government of India to “restore peace” rather than addressing the dispute or its resolution “limits the scope of any engagement” with him and makes it an exercise in futility.
The Centre on October 23 appointed Sharma as its special representative for a “sustained dialogue” with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir, in a fresh move aimed at bringing peace to the troubled state.
Sharma, with the rank of Cabinet Secretary, will have complete independence in deciding who to hold talks with, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said while making the crucial announcement.
“The (much)-hyped appointment of Dineshwar Sharma by Government of India as its interlocutor for J&K is nothing more than a tactic to buy time, adopted under international pressures and regional compulsions and due to the abysmal failure of the state policy of military repression upon the people of Kashmir,” the separatists said in their statement.
The separatist leaders took objection to Sharma’s recent comment that he will come to Kashmir “to dissuade the youth from Islam and pursuing their legitimate political aspirations so that Kashmir does not become Syria.
“To compare the internationally-recognized 70-year-old political and humanitarian issue of Kashmir to that of the sectarian war and power struggle in Syria is deception and propaganda as there is no co-relation between the two situations,” they said.
The separatists said in-principle they have always advocated and supported sincere and productive dialogue as a means of conflict resolution over Jammu and Kashmir.
“What it inherently entails from all participants to dialogue is the basic acknowledgment that there is a dispute that has to be resolved. But Government of India continuously refuses to accept this basic premise and the reality on the ground,” they added.
Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attack on former Home minister P Chidambaram for his comment on “greater autonomy” for J&K, the separatists asked how the Centre would deal with “aspiration of self-determination” in Kashmir.
“If the Government of India even rejects the demand of its co-political party for restoration of autonomy guaranteed by its own Constitution, calling it a betrayal with soldiers and hence unacceptable, how will such a dispensation in New Delhi address or engage with the Kashmiri people’s political will and aspiration of self-determination for which people have been relentlessly struggling and sacrificing for the past 70 years,” they asked.
They said that unless the Kashmir dispute is understood and addressed in its historical context and in the background of international commitments made over it, lasting peace can neither be achieved in J&K nor in the subcontinent.
“While the repressive state militaristic approach continues in dealing with Kashmir, to talk of peace and dialogue is also a ploy by the Government of India to strike a hard bargain which people of Kashmir and leadership will never succumb to,” they added.
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