Interlocutor Appointment is ‘Beating around Bush’ Exercise
Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh this week announced the appointment of former IB Chief Dineshwar Sharma as interlocutor for dialogue with the stake holders in Jammu and Kashmir which did not generate political euphoria in either Kashmir or Jammu. The announcement fits in very fair proverb, what people in Kashmir call “rubbing salt into the wounds” and henceforth falsifies the concerns on Jammu & Kashmir. This is what any sensible person can squeeze out in crux while analyzing the strategy and policy of appointment of former Intelligence Chief as an interlocutor. The experiences of yesteryears show that Government of India comes up with decision that generate false hopes as the promises made by it to the people of Jammu & Kashmir are part of hypocritical policies.
As the Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh announced the appointment of former Intelligence Bureau (IB) Chief Dineshwar Sharma as the interlocutor for Jammu & Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was thrilled so much that she called a presser with the incumbent Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, the head of the BJP, part, of the coalition ministry in Jammu & Kashmir to welcome the peace initiative undertaken by the Modi government in Delhi to adress the Kashmir issue. The power wielding pro-India politicians (those in power) are considering it as an achievement for people of Kashmir and resolution of Kashmir issue. They think this decision by Home Minister of India will help in altering the ground situation in the Jammu and Kashmir, particularly in Kashmir valley. The pro-freedom politicians, on the other hand, totally don’t agree with that what pro-indian politicians think and propagate. For the common Kashmiri, the expectations in the aftermath of the appointment of the interlocutor have not changed. There are many reasons why a common kashmiri does not expect any breakthrough from the talks, the new interlocutor may hold with some groups in Jammu & Kashmir.
Reason 1: In past, so many interlocutors were appointed by the successive central government for dialogue with the stake holders in Jammu & Kashmir but the reports submitted to the central government by the interlocutor were either put to the dustbin or probably misinterpreted by the government of India to hide the true aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir. All the time, Kashmiris were promised skies but were not offered even the peanuts. So there is no public euphoria over the announcement of the appointment of an interlocutor by the Home Minister of India. For a common Kashmiri, this seems to be a ploy as the Central Government announces such decision the time they feel situation in Kashmir is very grim. So it is very clear that India remembers Kashmir only when the situation worsens in Kashmir.
Reason 2: Interlocutor, so appointed by the government of India, a former IB chief won’t find it easy to start a process of political engagement in Jammu & Kashmir. The questions of debate among Kashmir are that how can any IB man be an interlocuter? Or, how can a former intelligence chief have political mandate? Thus it is very clear that the incumbent central government controlled and commanded by a die hard RSS parcharak like Narendra Modi is sabotaging the peace initiative even before commencing it.
Reason 3: Obviously, the talks without involving Pakistan and Hurriyat can’t even be commenced and henceforth the initiative taken by the Modi government can never be a fruitful because the two main stakeholders are ignored. So even naives can understand that the dialogue process undertaken without two political stakeholders is apolitical .
The apolitical process can never solve the sensitive political issue like Kashmir. Thus ousting Pakistan means there is no sincerity in the peace initiative. Most of the Kashmiris consider Pakistan as the main stakeholder of the issue and in Kashmir, there is more pro-pakistan sentiment than pro-independent sentiment. If we consider the Indian narrative of Kashmir issue, all know that India blames Pakistan for trouble and disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir. According to India, it is Pakistan which is responsible for all the fuss in Kashmir, otherwise the problem doesn’t exist. So, if the Government of India ignores the main ‘trouble maker’ in the peace process undertaken for finding a solution to the problem, how can a problem be solved? Or how can peace be restored? Or how can the dispute be settled? Thus, not involving Pakistan is like bathing without water.
Reason 4: When anti militancy operations are in full swing in Jammu and Kashmir, then how can the peace process and violence go hand in hand? For instance if armed rebel is killed in an encounter, thousands of people will join his last rites and will deepen the anti-India sentiments and hence the presence of interlocutor will have no significance.
Before announcing the appointment of an interlocutor, India must have ceased the anti militant operations to create a conducive atmosphere for talks, but it played in the opposite direction as was evident from remark of the Indian army chief who as reported by newspapers said, “there will be no impact of the peace initiative on anti-militancy operations.”
Reason 5: There is no problem for India with pro-Indian politicians. For them problem lies with the pro-freedom or pro-Pakistan politicians and with the ‘radicalised youth’ (according to them).
Unfortunately, they all are behind bars. So, with whom Interlocutor Sharma will talk? Probably with none other than their own people. This initiative is directionless. There is no sign of seriousness in this process. Even before announcing the appointment of interlocutor the government of India should have freed all political prisoners, students etc.
Reason 6: The Government of India has always turned blind eye towards the true aspirations of people of Jammu and Kashmir. They never see what is written on the walls. The terms like ‘azadi’ and plebiscite are never included in the dictionary of so called interlocutors appointed for undertaking the peace process.
To conclude, it is very clear that the incumbent Central Government does not intend to solve the issue and free the valley from its greedy clutches. It clearly seems that helmsmen in Delhi are intentionally ignoring the possible and genuine procedures that might solve the issue in a reasonable way. Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, the man who is having enough time to go on trips to foreign countries to shake hands with counter parts and exchange his mann ki baat smiles never tends to speak up for Kashmir. Even if proposals come from the other countries, Prime Minister Modi hardly bothers to respond to conflict resolution proposals on Kashmir. Here, in valley youth are traumatized by the excessive use of power. How come they claim to create love and affection in our hearts, where the very preamble of their constitution fails to fit for the same.
Author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not necessarily reflect the position or editorial policy of Oracle Opinions.