After failing in Kashmir, Centre agrees to Oppn demands

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Image courtesy ANI Twitter

In a major initiative by the Modi government to reach out to Kashmiris, the Centre on Monday announced a "sustained dialogue" process with all stakeholders in the Valley and appointed former Intelligence Bureau director Dineshwar Sharma as its special representative.

India on Monday named a former chief of domestic intelligence to lead talks in Jammu and Kashmir, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi moves to defuse tension that has simmered in the occupied territory since July past year. Mehbooba Mufti, who has always been advocating talks with separatists and Pakistan, welcomed the Centre's initiative and said stakeholders should consider this as an opportunity and start a dialogue as it is the need of the time.

The newly-appointed interlocutor said he will make his first visit to the strife-torn Valley within "eight-10 days" but multiple government sources confirmed that a lot of homework has already been done.

Singh said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held a series of meetings with political representatives on the Kashmir issue and "all of them were clear that the process of dialogue should begin in the Valley".

"Responding to a tweet about the choice of a non-political representative, Omar said the mandate given to the interlocutor was more important". He will be leading the fourth official initiative of the Centre to hold dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir.

According to him, the "legitimate aspirations" of people of J&K is an interesting formulation. I extend an open invitation to all individuals and groups in J&K who are willing to engage in a dialogue. He talked of every stakeholder. "Who gets to decide what is legitimate?" he tweeted.

"We had been demanding from day one that they should talk to all stakeholders and they opposed this demand". At the same, he wondered if the NIA investigation against Hurriyat leaders in the state would be suspended to facilitate talks.

State BJP chief spokesman Sunil Sethi said the party is not averse to talk.

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee president Ghulam Ahmad Mir said the Congress was always for dialogue. "Talks should be held with those, who have issues".

Asked if Sharma would talk to the separatists, Singh said he would be free to "talk to whoever he wants to".

The moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and pro-independence JKLF chairman have remained tight-lipped.

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