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BJP divided over dialogue with ‘extra-constitutional’ Hurriyat

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Some senior BJP leaders say interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma should not talk to separatists, days after Ram Madhav stressed on dialogue with them.

New Delhi: The BJP, which pulled out of the alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir last week, seems to be divided over initiating talks with separatist alliance Hurriyat in the Valley.

A section of senior leaders is of the view that Centre-appointed interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma should not engage with any ‘extra-constitutional entity’, including the separatists.

“Most of us (in the BJP) are of the view that Sharma should not engage with those who do not respect the constitutional framework,” said a top BJP source.

This contradicts the view of BJP’s pointsman for Jammu and Kashmir Ram Madhav who said last week that a four-pronged approach will be involved in dealing with the situation in the state, including neutralising terrorists, legally challenging their over-ground supporters, engaging with Hurriyat and ushering in development projects.

The Hurriyat had also issued a statement a few days ago saying they were ready for talks and would engage with New Delhi only if the latter defined agenda for the dialogue.

Sharma told ThePrint his mandate to keep the door open for dialogue was irrespective of who rules the state.

“My mandate was to ensure dialogue irrespective of whether there is an elected government in the state or it is under the governor’s rule,” Sharma said.

“But as far as talks with the separatist are are concerned, I will not be able to comment on the issue. Let us see what happens. I am going to visit the Valley soon,” added Sharma.

Former CM Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP had once termed Sharma’s visit to Kashmir “the most serious effort ever by the New Delhi”.

A fresh challenge for interlocutor

While the Centre had decided to give the Army a free hand to handle the situation in Kashmir, taking forward the dialogue initiated by the Narendra Modi government is proving to be quite challenging for Sharma, sources said.

The state has been under governor’s rule since 19 June, when the BJP withdrew from its alliance with the PDP.

Sources said Sharma, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau, had reached a level where he was able to initiate back-channel talks with the Hurriyat. But with the break in the PDP-BJP alliance, it is yet to be seen how Sharma would be received by various factions.

“He is the one who negotiated on various fronts. He is the one on whose recommendation amnesty was extended to first-time stone-pelters,” said a source.

“He was treading cautiously. He had the mandate to ensure that the dialogue process continues but the situation has changed now,” the source added.

Past interlocutors

In May 2001, then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee had appointed K.C. Pant as Kashmir interlocutor. A year later, senior leaders such as Arun Jaitley and Ram Jethmalani also explored the possibility of giving ‘greater exclusivity’ to Kashmir.

In 2003, N.N. Vohra, the current governor of the state, was engaged to take forward the dialogue process and make the Hurriyat a part of it.

In 2010, the then UPA government-led by Manmohan Singh had appointed a three-member committee comprising the late journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, former information commissioner M.M. Ansari and academic Radha Kumar to hold talks with all sections in the state.

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  1. The dialogue should be taken up with the Hurriyat. Between the Governor and the Interlocutor, GoI has a fine team in place. This was part of the AoA. Had a serious dialogue been initiated, starting from Mufti Saheb’s time, the increasing strife in Kashmir could have been avoided. The fear that is being expressed is that the Hurriyat is no longer fully in control of the narrative of the disaffected.

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