Skip to main content

Dialogue through interlocutor in J&K: Best instrument of dialogue would be the expression of Kashmiris' choice through a ‘vote’

By Syed Mujtaba*
The idea of interlocutors is neither new nor a sure-fire solution. The state has seen a succession of them over the past two decades, beginning with the visit of an all-party delegation led by Rajiv Gandhi in March 1990 at the beginning of the militancy. Balraj Puri and Dr Karan Singh also participated in some initiatives to bring a settlement but soon bowed out.
While there were a number of political initiatives during the 1990s, the first major attempt at a political dialogue was initiated only in April 2001, when the central government appointed former Union Minister KC Pant as its interlocutor for peace talks with Kashmiris. This was a follow up to the initiative by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who had led an all-party delegation to the Valley in August 2000 to get an impression of ground realities in that state. Pant’s mission, however, was a non-starter because at time the Hurriyat Conference insisted that there could be no negotiations without the involvement of Pakistan. This time too, the real reason for Pant’s failure was Islamabad’s desire to be included in the talks and its refusal to allow New Delhi to work out any agreement directly with Kashmiri politicians. Pant’s mission was wound up in 2002 without achieving anything.
In 2002, the so called Kashmir Committee was formed under the leadership of Ram Jethmalani. The committee did manage to hold talks with the separatist leadership but nothing eventually came of it or its recommendations.
In 2003, the BJP led government in New Delhi took two initiatives towards finding a solution. It first appointed former Home Secretary NN Vohra in February of that year as a sort of interlocutor on Kashmir. His brief was, however, vague and the government did not seem to have a clear roadmap. Vohra managed to get the moderates in the Hurriyat to meet and initiate a dialogue with the then Home Minister, LK Advani, who in the end could offer no concession and the stalemate continued. Subsequently in July, the government appointed senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley to engage with the Kashmir Government and various political parties in the Valley. Jaitley held some meetings but could not come up with any solution acceptable to any political party. After that a couple of other interlocutors – including former RAW chief AS Dulat and the late journalist RK MIshra - tried their hand at starting as dialogue but were equally unsuccessful.
The first major initiative on Kashmir was the ‘Round Table Conference’ announced by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on 25 February 2006. All Kashmiri mainstream political parties welcomed the move but added that all shades of opinion should be included to make the roundtable a success. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, leader of Hurriyat Conference, initially welcomed the conference and Shabir Shah too hinted that he might come.
Home Minister P Chidambaram in early December 2010 said that the “contours of a political solution” to the Kashmir problem should emerge over the next few months. The separatists continued to stay away from the meetings. Earlier, separatist strongman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, slammed the appointment of the Interlocutors as a “dirty trick” played by New Delhi to deceive US President Barack Obama. He continued to maintain there was no point in discussing anything with the Interlocutors unless the Indian Prime Minister first accepted his five points: “Accept Kashmir as disputed territory; demilitarise Kashmir; release political prisoners; prosecute all security forces personnel responsible for the killings of 112 persons during the summer of unrest; and revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act”.

Recommendations

In their report, Padgaonkar, Kumar and former information commissioner M.M. Ansari had urged the Centre to reduce the army’s visibility, urgently address human rights violations, review the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA, which gives the forces powers without corresponding accountability, and lift the Disturbed Areas Act. But the same recommendations were never put before parliament for discussion nor for debate.
The concerned citizens group led by Yashwant Sinha were active in 2016 and 2017. The extent to which they had any kind of official backing or sponsorship is not clear. Their observations and remarks on the situation have been trenchant and against the grain of official policy.
As everyone can draw conclusions from the fact that the Narendra Modi government has appointed former Intelligence Bureau director Dineshwar Sharma as the interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir.it is also in a stage of considerable confusion regarding the mandate given to interlocutor whether He is a political negotiator or only to listen to all shades of opinion and offer suggestions to the Home Minister.
Ahead of the visit of Dineshwar Sharma to the Valley, Hurriyat Conference led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani claimed that an official of the state government approached them for facilitating a meeting of the separatist leader with the Centre’s special representative. The outfit claimed that its leaders would not meet the Centre’s special representative for Kashmir. “A state representative, on the intervening night of November 4 and 5, expressed desire to meet the Hurriyat chairman to facilitate his meeting with the designate interlocutor,” according to Hurriyat “forced negotiations” have no political or moral justifications. “We reject the dialogue offer…It is mere rhetoric and wastage of time and no section of Hurriyat or group will meet designate interlocutor or participate in this futile exercise,”

Conclusion

While the Government of India has decided to restart dialogue in Jammu and Kashmir, the best instrument of dialogue would be the expression of their choice through a ‘vote’. India and Pakistan have the need to enter into a dialogue on the future of Jammu and Kashmir and the people of the State shall have to participate in this dialogue through their vote supervised by the United Nations. People of Kashmir have no other fair and reliable means of entering into any dialogue with India, except through a free and fair plebiscite.
The process has been duly crafted by the United Nations and the two countries have accepted the forma. The appointment of former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as the New Delhi’s new interlocutor, has no merit and is unconvincing. Kashmir is not an administrative or a security problem that could be entrusted to an intelligence officer.
---
*Senior advocate, World Columnist Club member, contact: jaan.aalam@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

Karnataka: NGO Akshay Patra "not sensitive" to nutrition demands of school children

Counterview Desk
Well-known civil rights organizations, Right to Food Campaign and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, have sent a letter to the Union minister of human resource development, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, other concerned ministers and officials of the state expressing concerns regarding the mid-day meal (MDM) to school children, insisting, all contracts to the Akshay Patra for supply of MDM should be immediately terminated.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Modi's PRO, who served previous Congress, BJP CMs in Gujarat with "equal" competence

By Rajiv Shah
A public relations officer (PRO), even as maintaining anonymity, is supposed to “manage” reputation of his or her client, reflecting the client’s views in order to influence opinion and behaviour. A PRO is also known to use, the world over, media and communication to build, maintain, manage and plan publicity strategies and campaigns, even as dealing with enquiries from the public, particularly media, organising promotional events such as press conferences, open days, exhibitions, tours and visits. A PRO is also supposed to final touches to press statements for his or client.

80% school children are beaten up, 91% parents "approve" of it: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A recent report, prepared by researchers with the civil rights group, Agrasar, has revealed that of the 521 children from marginalized groups surveyed in Gurugram, Haryana, 80% said they are punished at school. Based on data collected from semi-urban communities in Gurugram, the report’s conclusions also take into account survey 100 parents, personal interviews with 26 children, three focus group discussions and one seasonal calendar exercise with 29 parents.