Kashmiri separatists rule out talks with Indian interlocutor

Srinagar: Kashmiri separatist leaders on Tuesday ruled out any talks with the government’s interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, calling his appointment “a new tactic” by New Delhi after it failed in its muscular approach in the troubled state.

A joint statement by Hurriyat factions chairmen Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yaseen Malik said they won’t engage in parleys with former Intelligence Bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma.

Sharma, who has served in Kashmir as an IB man and was known to have struck a personal chord with arrested militants there, declined to comment on the separatists’ first reaction to his October 23 appointment as a special representative of the Central government to talk to “all stakeholders” for ending the nearly three-decade-long separatist campaign in Kashmir.

“I have nothing to say over what the Hurriyat says,” Sharma told IANS in Delhi.

The separatist statement issued under the banner of Joint Resistance Leadership, a newly formed loose conglomerate of factionalised separatist groups in the Kashmir Valley, said it was useless to participate in any dialogue process that didn’t recognize Kashmir “is a dispute that has to be resolved”.

“The appointment of Sharma by the government as its interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir is nothing more than a tactic to buy time adopted under international pressures and regional compulsions and due to the abysmal failure of the state policy of military repression upon the people of Kashmir,” the statement said.

It added: “In principle, we have always advocated and supported sincere and productive dialogue as a means to resolve the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian government has continuously refused to accept the basic premise and the reality on the ground.

“Unless the Kashmir dispute is understood and addressed in its historical context and in the background of international commitments made over over it, lasting peace can neither be achieved in Jammu and Kashmir nor in the sub-continent.”

Referring to Sharma’s various media interviews ahead of his first trip to the Kashmir Valley as interlocutor, the separatist leaders said his assertions that he was coming to the valley to “restore peace rather than addressing the dispute or its resolution… limits the scope of any engagement with him and makes it an exercise in futility”.

They also took strong exception to Sharma’s statement that Jammu and Kashmir had to be saved from becoming another Syria — a comment he made in an interview to IANS.

“To compare the internationally recognized 70-year-old political and humanitarian issue of Kashmir to that of the sectarian war and power struggle in Syria is deception and propaganda as there is no relation between the two situations.”

Reacting to the opposition to Congress leader P. Chidambaram advocating autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, the statement said: “Even the assertion by their own leaders on restoration of autonomy to the state has been rejected by the Indian government although the same is guaranteed by their own constitution.”