No takers


With state administration, except for the police, in complete paralysis, New Delhi is desperate to resume talks but are there any takers? A Kashmir Life report.

As unrest in Kashmir rages on, New Delhi is finding hard to get a partner with whom it can talk to.  Their most trusted bets, always ready to talk have also shunned them. Sceptical of their previous dealings with New Delhi, the moderate camp of separatists have hitch hiked the band wagon of hardliners.

Analysts believe that no leader will risk his or her reputation to talk with New Delhi at this movement. 

“The situation which has evolved during the last two years in general and last two months in particular has subsequently decreased the credibility as well as political space of the moderates,” says Prof Rekha Choudhary of Jammu University. “Currently politics has become singular in nature and that is just hardline school of thought. Anybody trying to differ risks losing credibility.”

At such a juncture moderates were the best bet to have been included in the talks. Hardliners are not going to budge from their stand and unionists have their own agenda, always at the disposal of New Delhi. So it was the moderates who held the key to make some forward movement in any possible dialogue, but that option too seems to be closed, as the moderates this time, are not trusting New Delhi.

The history of talks with New Delhi makes everybody sceptical. “The history is full of such events where the moderates have talked and all that ended in frustration leaving the moderates red-faced with their people,” said Choudhary. “That has cost them too much.”

There have been number of rounds of talks between moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference and the Prime Minister, but till date nothing concrete has come out of it.

The talks would usually move in cycles of dialogue-lull-dialogue with no result. After burning their fingers, the moderates are not going to go again to talks with no assurance of future continuity.

While trashing the talks offer from New Delhi, chairman of moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Omar Farooq said that there is no use in talks unless gross human rights violations do not stop. “Killings and dialogue cannot go hand in hand,” Mirwaiz said. The moderate camp also demanded that Pakistan must be made part of the any future talk process. “There should be no ambiguity in the agenda of the talks as the terms of dialogue must be clear,” said Mirwaiz.

Mirwaiz accused New Delhi of insincerity and non-seriousness on talks. “We had given them suggestions to make a conducive atmosphere like troop withdrawal from civilian areas, end to Human Rights violations, revocation of AFSPA and other black laws and release of Kashmiri detainees,” said Mirwaiz. “But nothing was done by New Delhi in this regard.”

Analysts also accused moderates of riding with the waves.

“Actually moderates are subject to waves. They go for talks when they are invited by New Delhi and they try to reap the benefit of mass mobilisation when there is one organised by hardliners,” said a professor at Kashmir University. “It is their paradox, but today they are simply told to either be on our side or on their side.”

The moderate separatism has off late been taken over by unionist political parties like National Conference and People’s Democratic Party.

“Earlier PDP massively encroached on their space and it gained a lot,” said the professor. “After seeing its benefits, NC too is aggressively trumpeting its autonomy report, which all comprises of moderate separatism.”

Moderates find themselves pushed to wall without an agenda. “So the ideal way for them to escape the wrath is to become hardliners,” said the professor.

Choudhary says that the Government of India is finding itself in the hard position. “They know that force has not worked, economic package has not worked, jobs have not worked, so now they want to talk, but here nobody is ready,” said Choudhary. 

Experts feel that the situation will become clear if the cycle of violence comes to an end. “Currently the atmosphere is highly charged and nobody will like to talk in such an atmosphere when emotions are running high,” said Choudhary. “If there is some normalcy and consistency in New Delhi’s stand then only we can hope of some engagement with separatists.”

The equations, they say, have changed in present circumstances and power is in the hands of hardline separatists. With Kashmir shutting down, and opening, on the announcement of hardliners, the message as to who is in charge in Kashmir is clear.

It was in this background that Prime Minister himself had to address the nation over Kashmir. “The control is no longer in the hands of New Delhi and they have realised it,” said Choudhary. “That is why New Delhi is so desperate to talk.”

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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