Emissary named in Delhi shift on Kashmir
New Delhi: The Centre has appointed a representative to initiate a sustained dialogue with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir and understand the "legitimate aspirations" of the people in what is being seen as a rethink on the Narendra Modi government's bullet policy.
Former Intelligence Bureau director Dineshwar Sharma will be the Centre's representative, Union home minister Rajnath Singh told a hurriedly convened news conference on Monday afternoon.
Asked categorically whether Sharma would also talk to Kashmiri separatists, Rajnath said: "He has been given complete freedom to talk to all groups and individuals he thinks important and necessary. It is his discretion. We want to understand the aspirations of the people, especially youths."
The home minister said that as a representative of the government, Sharma would initiate a sustained dialogue to understand the legitimate aspirations of the people in Jammu and Kashmir.
The apparent shift in the Centre's strategy that has till now banked on a crackdown by the security forces was welcomed by Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who said: "Dialogue is a necessity of the hour and the only way to go forward."
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: "Will keep an open mind & wait to see results of the dialogue process." He added later: "The acceptance of the political nature of the Kashmir issue is a resounding defeat of those who could only see use of force as a solution."
Sharma had served as the IB director between December 2014 and 2016.
Asked if politicians had failed and that prompted the appointment of a retired police officer as interlocutor, Rajnath said: "The Centre wanted someone who did not have any political affiliations. Sharma would be the most suited person in reaching out to all individuals and organisations in the state."