Dineshwar Sharma, the Centre’s interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, has said sentiments have to be addressed and the level of violence in the Valley has to be brought down before any political dialogue can be initiated.
A former IB director, Sharma, who is credited with advocating the amnesty programme for Kashmiri youth booked for stone-pelting and for persuading the Centre to announce the Ramzan ceasefire, in a recent conversation with The Indian Express, said: “The biggest challenge in Kashmir today is to calm down the sentiments of the people, particularly youth.”
Interview with Sharma: ‘My priority is to lay foundation stone from where we can start further dialogue’
“The other issues which need priority attention are how to prevent local youth from joining militancy; how to ensure the return of youth who have already joined; convince the youth that violence and gun will not bring solution to any problem but will only add to the miseries…; and, how to restore harmony between people of different communities living in all three regions of J&K.”
He made these remarks days ahead of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to J&K — it starts June 7 — during which he will review, among other scenarios, the suspension of security operations for Ramzan.
“Unless we are able to address sentiments and bring down violence, it will be difficult to think about any political dialogue, any political solution. First, we have to somehow ensure that peace comes. Only then can any political dialogue start. So let us first address the sentiment and bring down tempers,” Sharma said.
“I fully agree it is a chicken and egg situation — whether the situation needs to calm to begin a political dialogue or the start of a political dialogue helps calm the situation. But I think we need to curtail the anger, bring down the violence first.”
“As far as the sentiment in Kashmir is concerned, it can be addressed only if we embrace people with an open heart, about which our Prime Minister and Home Minister have already talked… More Kashmiri people, including youth, should visit other parts of the country and they should be shown the same love and affection so that they get a feeling of belonging to the nation. Similarly, more people from the rest of the country should visit J&K, see its natural beauty, and enjoy the affection and hospitality of the local people,” he said.