Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to send clear signals that he has set his eyes on his unfinished ‘Kashmir agenda’ from the very beginning.
Amid loud banter for the resumption of ‘internal’ dialogue process with all the stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be landing in Srinagar on his maiden visit on Wednesday.
Though he is expected to spend quality time to review the security situation and preparedness of the various agencies to ensure incident free conduct of the Amarnath Yatra this year at the same time Shah is expected to test political waters ahead of kick-starting any formal dialogue process in the valley.
Shah’s predecessor Rajnath Singh toiled hard in the past to find ‘right-minded’ people to bring lasting peace in the state.
Hurriyat is the perpetrator of most of the problems in Kashmir. With the inflow of Hawala money controlled, they are now strapped of cash and thus asking for talks.
He made personal gestures on numerous occasions during his repeated visits to the state and invited all the stakeholders to join the dialogue process. But instead of responding to the offer the separatists chose to stay away from the dialogue table.
Now it remains to be seen whether Amit Shah will be able to break the ice and find ‘right-minded’ people to resume the dialogue process.
To begin with, his image of a ‘hard taskmaster‘ may come in the way and keep separatists at bay. At the same time, his loyalty towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and their commitment towards finding a resolution of the issue may bring him closer to those who are really keen on initiating the dialogue with the ruling dispensation than rejecting the dialogue offer, as and when it is initiated.
Why talks are significant now?
The timing of the dialogue, if initiated formally, in the near future is going to play a significant role in the power matrix of the state.
It can be seen as another attempt by the central government to create a conducive atmosphere in the state in the run-up to holding Assembly polls, which are long overdue.
After assuming charge of the office, for the second consecutive term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also want to send clear signals that he has set his eyes on his unfinished ‘Kashmir agenda’ from the very beginning.
Present offer of dialogue with the top brass of the Hurriyat should be seen as the first step in the same direction.
A political observer commented that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to send clear signals that he means business when it comes to handling Kashmir and making difference in the lives of common people by punishing corrupt and tightening noose around those who were looting state exchequer under the garb of terrorism in the state.
After smooth conduct of the Panchayat and latest Lok Sabha polls in the state, the centre is keen on creating a conducive atmosphere for holding Assembly polls in the state.
By initiating a formal dialogue, the centre can send positive vibes to the people of the state that it is keen on installing a popular government in the state and secondly, it will not tolerate any anti-India campaign to flourish at the behest of their masters sitting across the borders in Pakistan.
Last week when J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik publicly said it was encouraging to see Hurriyat’s readiness for talks, peaceniks of different hue and shades surfaced all of a sudden and started pushing for the early resumption of talks to resolve the issue of Kashmir.
Internal talks with different stakeholders in the state remained stalled for a long time as Hurriyat refused to join the parleys as the same was happening within the ambit of the Indian constitution.
This time too, the offer for dialogue will come with the same rider but it remains to be seen whether Hurriyat will respond positively or once again refuse to join the dialogue table.
Earlier, different groups of interlocutors and working groups constituted by the successive governments in New Delhi failed to break the ice after such marathon exercises were conducted in the past.
The latest exercise conducted under the leadership of Centre’s interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma too failed to yield positive results.
NC, PDP supporting dialogue offer too
Several mainstream political parties have welcomed the ‘idea’ of resuming talks within the ambit of the Indian constitution.
Ironically, the state unit of the BJP is not on the same page with the ruling dispensation in Delhi.
After several Kashmir based politicians including National Conference Chief Dr Farooq Abdullah and PDP Chief Mehbooba Mufti favoured an early resumption of talks, state BJP spokesman issued a written statement claiming, “any talks with the Joint Resistance leadership/Hurriyat at this stage without them publicly accepting pre-conditions will be counter-productive and a retrograde step”.
In Srinagar, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national vice-president and the J&K affairs in-charge, Avinash Rai Khanna said, “Centre was open for dialogue with the Hurriyat leaders “but within the ambit of Indian constitution.”
“We are open for talks. Hurriyat leaders are own people, they are the residents of J&K so they are most welcome to talk to us including the Prime Minister Narendra Modi but within the ambit of Indian constitution,” Khanna told media persons on the sidelines of a party function in Srinagar.
Reacting to the political development, National Conference President and sitting Member Parliament from Srinagar Dr Farooq Abdullah Monday said, “The Governor says Hurriyat has agreed to talks. Then, talks should be held with them,”
Similarly, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party president on Monday said she was relieved that Hurriyat has “finally” softened its stand on talks with the Centre.
Any talks with Hurriyat will be counter-productive and a retrograde step: BJP
In Jammu, State Spokesperson of Bharatiya Janata Party Brig Anil Gupta said, “None of the Hurriyat leaders has signalled any change in their stance and continue to promote separatism“. “Mere appeals for talks with the Centre is no indicator of any change in their mindset”, he added.
“Hurriyat is the perpetrator of most of the problems in Kashmir. With the inflow of Hawala money controlled, they are now strapped of cash and thus asking for talks. The JRL should publically acknowledge the indisputable status of J&K and it being an integral part of India. They should also commit their loyalty to the Constitution of India and seek talks only under its ambit,” asserted Brig Gupta.
“Any talks with the JRL/Hurriyat at this stage without them publicly accepting these pre-conditions will be counter-productive and a retrograde step. It will also be a huge set back to the ongoing extremely successful operations against terror and the terror support network, of which Hurriyat is a major culprit”. In 2016, “the same leadership had spurned the offer of talks within the ambit of Constitution because at that time they enjoyed backing and support of Pakistan. The present offer of talks is a mere ruse and time gaining exercise to regroup and reorganize”, warned Brig Gupta.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.