Two days after Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik signalled that separatist Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks, BJP national vice-president and J&K in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna said Monday that “our doors are open for anyone who wants to talk while keeping their faith in the Constitution of India.” His remarks also come after Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq told The Indian Express that the Hurriyat would respond “positively” if “meaningful dialogue” is initiated by New Delhi.
Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Srinagar, Khanna said that though there is no formal offer from the Centre, “What I’m saying, is an offer. Develop faith in the country’s Constitution and assist in maintaining the law and order situation, then we can talk.”
He also said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has created such an atmosphere in the country that any person can contribute to the peace process. Khanna’s remarks assume significance with BJP president Amit Shah taking over the Union Home Ministry in the second Modi government.
The J&K BJP unit, too, said that the Hurriyat would need to “publicly acknowledge the indisputable status of Jammu and Kashmir and that it is an integral part of India,’’ and “commit their loyalty to the Constitution of India and seek talks only under its ambit’’.
In a statement Monday, BJP’s state spokesperson Brigadier (retired) Anil Gupta said: “Any talks with the JRL (Joint Resistance Leadership)/Hurriyat at this stage without them publicly accepting these pre-conditions will be counter-productive and a retrograde step.”
“None of the Hurriyat leaders have signalled any change in their stance and continue to promote separatism,’’ Gupta said, adding that “mere appeals for talks with the Centre is no indicator of any change in their mindset’’.
On Saturday, Governor Malik had announced that Hurriyat leaders were ready for talks. Responding to the Governor’s statement, Mirwaiz Farooq had said that “if meaningful talks are initiated, there will be a positive response. Dialogue is the only way and that is our consistent stand,” he said, adding that “Hurriyat has always been in favour of talks as the means of resolution. We have not said anything new. We have always been saying this. As the most affected party with daily killings of our young, we would naturally want peaceful resolution of the issue.”
Political parties in the state have welcomed the development, considering the deadlock over Kashmir for the past 13 years. National Conference president and Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah said that talks “must be held” with the Hurriyat and called for including Pakistan in the dialogue. “The Governor has himself stated that Hurriyat is ready for talks, and if they are, then talks should be held. Everyone should be included in the talks, including Pakistan.”
Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti took to Twitter to comment on the development. “The underlying purpose of PDP-BJP alliance was to facilitate dialogue between GoI & all stakeholders. Tried my best to make it happen in my tenure as CM but relieved that Hurriyat has finally softened their stand,” she said.
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