The charade of interlocution

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by Raees –ul-Hamid Paul

To majority of those, whose eyeballs remain stared at developments in Kashmir, North Block ostensibly seems to have woken up from its deep slumber vis a vis the prevailing Kashmir crisis by appointing ex Intelligence Bureau Chief Dineshwar Sharma as an interlocutor to reach out to the people of Kashmir especially the youth. Does this latest dovish and apparently re-conciliatory political move, which was preceded by a hawkish and muscular policy and which is concomitantly going on, really reflect some sincerity on the part of present BJP dispensation to initiate efforts at easing out the crisis? This appointment of one man interlocutor by the GoI has got different connotations for people.

File image of Dineshwar Sharma, centre’s representative to hold dialogue

Like most of the citizenry, I too view this initiative with a certain degree of nihilism and cynicism and don’t pin much hopes for anything substantive and perennial outcome of this exercise. So what will be the subject matter of these talks? It can be arguably asked, is there something unknown and untold about the nature of Kashmir issue which New Delhi has been unable to comprehend so far? Or has there been so much of commotion all these years that voices emerging from there were lost in the din and not audible and lucid enough to ears of New Delhi, hence the need of an interlocutor who must listen to these voices again? When Delhi is not ready to grant even miniscule amount of autonomy which is very much within the constitutional limits and doesn’t impinge on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, what kind of negotiations this “emissary and peacenik” is going to enter into with the youngsters who are out there on the roads with a humungous and off the limits demand of azadi, a demand which is a utopian and a non-palatable demand to the people who occupy the corridors of power.

The motive of these sorts of moves doesn’t remain obscure to the people for whom these initiatives are taken, they precociously know about the design of these parleys. These moves are rather, as some people view it, aimed at creating an alternative narrative about the situation in Kashmir, the narrative in which the dominant aspirations are soft-pedaled by grudges and grievances while overplaying terrorism and trivial unemployment issues. New Delhi has umpteenth number of times used such melodrama and acts of sophistry to slacken the decrying voices which emanate from the humane cohorts of Indian civil society and people who are concerned about the political uncertainty, alienation and disenchantment of youth of Kashmir.

Delhi’s new interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma meeting J&K governor N N Vohra in Delhi

The biggest tragedy with Kashmir is that it has often been dragged into the national discourse and made a vote bank for national politics. A statement by any congressman in favor of Kashmir and the BJP is out there to reap the political dividends from this “mistake” by snubbing and denigrating congress in their poll campaigns everywhere and anywhere. P. Chidambaram and the congress party was named and shamed by Prime Minister Modi on his statement of granting autonomy to Kashmir which was dubbed as parroting the line of Pakistan and secessionists. Such is the magnitude of obsession, right or wrong for Kashmir, that any reconciliatory move and humane step towards this conflict is being termed as sedition and anti-national.

The NIA which is deemed as an autonomous body has cracked its whip on many leaders from the resistance camp or their kith and kin with whom such talks are often deemed to be held and be result oriented.  So, was the motive first to hunch the resistance leadership and bring them to their knees so that they shun their hard stances and enter into parleys with this newly appointed interlocutor? Some quarters view this move a diversionary tactic and a time killing process. Former interlocutor M.M. Ansari termed this move by BJP as “dialogue for diversion”, raising doubts over this assignment being handed over to a former intelligence sleuth for resolving a problem which is essentially political in nature. The subsequent statements from the PMO Minister Dr Jitender Singh and Army Chief General Bipin Rawat at least don’t provide any semblance of sincerity and compassion in the approach of present dispensation. The PMO Minister categorically rejected the designation “interlocutor” for Dineshwar Sharma who often questions the very existence of Kashmir issue. One the other hand, Chief of Army Staff vehemently vouched that the move will not have any bearing on the anti-insurgency operations in the valley. These utterances cast serious doubts on the real motives of this move, as these two voices are often deemed as reflective of the policies of present regime vis a vis Jammu & Kashmir, as former Home Minister P. Chidambaram rightly stated.

In the backdrop of these things, the present interlocutor too seems won’t be able to break some ice and this initiative will meet its ill fate very soon. Given the lack of seriousness on the part of Delhi in resolving the Kashmir issue,  it can be said these moves were never intended to fructify nor will any of these ever unless New Delhi shows some kind of compassion in its attitude and taking on board all the parties who have a  stake in the resolution of this conflict. Otherwise the past experience of people with these working groups, commissions and interlocutors stands vindicated.

(Author is Doctoral student at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI), Chandigarh-160012. Ideas expresed are his own).

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