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

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.

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.

During Emergency, the ruler was extolled but Opposition wasn't punched around: Scribe

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book, “India: The Wrong Transition”, by a top Delhi-based scribe Anand K Sahay, has quoted “journalistic circles” to say that the Indian mainstream media – with certain “honourable exceptions” – has virtually abandoned the “practice of journalism”, and  this happened following a “sting operation” that showed that “the crème de la crème of Indian journalism were only too willing, for a suitable price, to let poisonous Hindutva propaganda prevail in their news columns.”

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".