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Modi told: You are "not following" Vajpayee, who talked with Kashmiri separatists and won them over

By Our Representative
AS Dulat, former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief under Atal Behari Vajpayee between 2001 and 2004, has advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi to begin talking with his predecessor, Dr Manmohan Singh, to understand how Vajapayee successfully “engaged” Kashmiri leaders.
Regretting that this is exactly what Modi is not doing, Dulat, in an interview, says, today “it’s a sad, sorry spectacle”, with South Kashmir looking “particularly bad”, so bad that “at times it looks like it is a liberated zone. Even the army is not very comfortable going in there.”
One whose book “Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years, co-authored with senior journalist Aditya Sinha, created ripples for advocating a reduced military presence in the Valley, Dulat believes, Vajpayee was nearing a solution to Kashmir, something about which Dr Singh, as also former Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Farooq Abdullah, know more than anyone else.
Praising Vajpayee, Dulat points towards the strong message he sent out to Kashmiris during his a visit to Srinagar. Answering a question at a press conference at the airport, “Why do we talk about constitutions? We talk within the bounds humanity.”
Dulat says, “That floored the Kashmiris. Every Kashmiri knows that when you are talking to the Government of India, can it be outside the Constitution? Would the home minister or prime minister of India talk outside the Constitution? But why do we have to rub that in?”
Pointing out that Vajpayee has become “revered in the Valley” as a symbol of “peace and understanding”, which is what “the Kashmiri looks for”, Dulat says, “When Modi became prime minister, the Kashmiris were happy because it was the same party.”
Regretting that Modi is refusing to follow Vajpayee, Dulat says, “The interesting thing that I find is that the BJP and now even the RSS revert to Vajpayee whenever convenient, but they don’t actually follow Vajpayee’s way. That is the catch.”
He adds, “Even Modiji has evoked Vajpayee from time to time. He did so after Mehbooba Mufti (J&K chief minister) came here, and somewhere in Madhya Pradesh, he said that yes, we have to follow Vajpayee. So Vajpayee comes out, but he’s not followed, unfortunately. And I think, he had shown a way and we need to follow that.”
Especially objecting to labeling Kashmiris as pro-Pakistan, Dulat, says, “When things are bad, everyone becomes pro-Pakistan. Hurriyat is pro-Pakistan. The BJP has a very short memory. The same Hurriyat when it was talking to the Government of India was labeled in Kashmir as Advani Hurriyat...”
Taking a dig a Modi raising Balochistan to counter Pakistan, Dulat says, “We have raised Balochistan now, fine, talk Balochistan. But the problem lies in Kashmir, when we have to talk Kashmir with Pakistan. If you want to follow the Vajpayee way, you should make an announcement that we are ready to talk to, let’s say, Hurriyat, and assign the job to Rajnath Singh, as Vajpayee did to Advani. Let Rajnath Singh talk to the separatists.”
“The most provocative thing from Delhi’s point of view is the Pakistani flag which is coming in. Now, these are not boys who want to go to Pakistan”, laments Dulat, adding, “This comes out of frustration, anger, hopelessness. So, why do we want to make the Kashmiris feel hopeless?”
“Today”, Dulat says, “The Kashmiri wants only azadi, the boys on the street, the streets want azadi. There is so much anger there and as Omar Abdullah said a few days ago, anger is only alive because we are not addressing the anger, and it will stay alive.”

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