We have appointed Kashmir interlocutor at a time of our choosing: Jaitley

Srinagar

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitleyon Wednesday hit out at the Kashmir policy adopted by the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and said that the NDA has gone from a stage of no policy under the UPA to a defined policy.

“The UPA had first announced a five-member working group. The group, however, never met. We never got to see the chairman. Whatever report was submitted was a farcical one,” he told Times Now.

“It was a silent, non-existent dialogue… there was no policy at all under the previous regime,” he added.

Jaitley said after taking over, it took the NDA government a year or two to take control of the situation due to the ongoing unrest and stone pelting.

“The Centre has now blocked terror funding and the separatist Hurriyat Conference stands exposed,” the minister said. “It is the first time in 25 years that terrorists are on the run,” he added.

“We have appointed an interlocutor for Kashmir at a time of our choosing. We have a structured policy where the Indian state and its institutions are in a position to say these are our people and we are willing to talk to all of them,” Jaitley stated.

On Monday, in a sudden shift of its stand, the government had announced talks with all stakeholders on Jammu and Kashmir and appointed former intelligence chief Dineshwar Sharma as its pointsman for the troubled state.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the move was to carry forward “the conviction and consistency” in the government’s Kashmir policy. “We have decided that a sustained dialogue process should begin in Jammu and Kashmir.”

“People told us that the dialogue process should be started. We are doing this,” Rajnath Singh said and recalled the Prime Minister’s August 15 speech saying “neither by bullet, nor by abuses but by embracing the people we can solve the problems in Jammu and Kashmir”.

In his first reaction, Sharma said restoring peace in the valley was his top priority. “The measure is significant because the BJP government at the Centre had constantly maintained a tough line on opening peace talks with separatists in Kashmir, particularly after the 2016 unrest that left over 100 civilians dead.”

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