A day after Dineshwar Sharma was appointed as interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday that the former IB chief would decide whom to engage with and there would be no interference by the government.
Asked if Sharma would hold talks with the Hurriyat Conference and separatists, Singh said, “It depends upon him whom he talks to or engages with”. Singh was speaking on the sidelines of the 56th Raising Day parade of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
On Monday, the Home Ministry said Sharma would initiate “sustained interaction and dialogue to understand the legitimate aspirations of the wide cross-sections of society, particularly the youth in J&K and communicate them to the state government and the Centre”. The retired 1979-batch officer of the Indian Police Service was the IB director from December, 2014, to December, 2016.
However, on Tuesday, Singh dodged questions on what signals the government sought to send to Pakistan with the appointment of the interlocutor and said Sharma, who would hold the rank of a cabinet secretary, would have a free hand in deciding whom to engage with.
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. Among those arrested is Altaf Shah alias Fantoosh, son-in-law of Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani.