‘There is nothing like a stone pelter … discussion will take place with everyone who wants peace in the valley’

Following up on its promise to resolve problems in Jammu & Kashmir through engagement, NDA government last month appointed Dineshwar Sharma, former director of Intelligence Bureau, as its representative to initiate and carry forward dialogue in the state. The initiative aims to understand legitimate aspirations of a wide cross section of society. Sharma, who has served in J&K, talked to Rohit E David last week about his role and plans:

What are some of the challenges you foresee?

My biggest work and challenge as an interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir is to bring normalcy to the entire region. I will not say that with me becoming an interlocutor everything will become normal immediately; it all depends.

The central government has not given me any time frame for my work to be done. In fact, I have been given a free hand to hold talks with anyone who is willing to speak and work for the betterment of the state. I would like to start my work with immediate effect. Early next week, I will be in J&K and I would like to get on the job right away. Restoring peace and prosperity of the people of J&K will be my number one priority. I have only one agenda: to work in a way to bring peace.

The central government has appointed some secretarial staff with whom I’ll be working. I can’t say right now which agencies or security forces will be involved in this process.

Will you sideline the separatists?

See, there is nothing like sidelining any separatist. I’m not going there with a view not to speak with any particular person. I’ll be there with an open mind. Let me see how the separatists respond. It all depends on how they take the offer of talks.

The chief minister of the state and political parties welcomed the appointment of an interlocutor but separatists were quiet. What’s your view?

Right now, I will not like to comment on this. I want to go there and see things myself. I can’t say anything about why separatists are staying mum.

Will the recent trend of targeted killings by terrorists inhibit Kashmiris from talking to you?

Well, terrorists can try to create an atmosphere where talks are not possible. However, I can say that an open discussion will take place with everyone who wants an atmosphere of peace in the Valley.

What’s your response to critics who say the history of dialogue in Kashmir does not inspire confidence in Delhi’s latest move?

I can’t say anything about the previous efforts to talk or why they failed or succeeded. I have to see everything. Infusing confidence amongst the people can only be done when we go out there and speak to everyone, including the locals.

What do you have to say about the stone pelters in the state?

There is nothing like a stone pelter. The youngsters have moved away from the right path. Now, my job will be to speak with them and bring them to the right side. Creating jobs for the youth will be one of the key focus areas during my talks. I will speak with the authorities, state government and anyone who can play a role in improving things in the state.

I can only say that the job which has been given to me is a very challenging one. I hope I can do what I have been sent for. I don’t promise a particular time, two, three or six months in which talks will work out. We will go and see everything there.

Why has normalcy not been restored in the state?

I cannot comment on the past. Everyone’s priority is to restore normalcy in the state. My objective will be to find a long term normalcy in the state, which prevails. One which does not fizzle away quickly. I cannot say if there is presence of Islamic State in the state.

Courtesy: Times Of India