Amid boycott from Kashmiri separatists, Centre's interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma set to hold talks

Amid boycott from separatists, Centre's new representative for Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma will begin a sustained dialogue in his maiden trip to the Valley on Monday.

Amid boycott from Kashmiri separatists, Centre's interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma set to hold talks

NEW DELHI: Amid boycott from separatists, Centre's new representative for Kashmir Dineshwar Sharma will begin a sustained dialogue in his maiden trip to the Valley on Monday.

The former Intelligence Bureau director will hold talks with various stakeholders including the political leadership, traders, youth and various other outfits during a six-day visit.

"I do not have a magic wand but my efforts have to be judged with sincerity and not through the prism of the past," said Sharma.

Terming the entire exercise as a 'serious effort', he added that "one should refrain from fishing in the desert". 

"I am going there tomorrow to be with my people and understand their pain and suffering and find a suitable remedy to their problems," said the 61-year-old.

Meanwhile, Valley separatists have rejected all talks with Sharma, calling his appointment a time-buying tactic "adopted under international pressure and regional compulsions".

Last week, the Hurriyat leadership said Sharma's assertion that he is coming to Kashmir with the directive from the government to "restore peace" rather than addressing the dispute or its resolution "limits the scope of any engagement" with him and makes it an exercise in futility.

Separatist leaders also objected to Sharma's comment that he will come to Kashmir "to dissuade the youth from Islam and pursuing their legitimate political aspirations so that Kashmir does not become Syria.

"To compare the internationally-recognized 70-year-old political and humanitarian issue of Kashmir to that of the sectarian war and power struggle in Syria is deception and propaganda as there is no correlation between the two situations," they said.

The Centre’s interlocutor had said that India's biggest challenge is to deradicalise youth and militants, and preventing the Valley from turning into Syria.

“I will have to convince the youth of Kashmir that they are only ruining their future and the future of all Kashmiris in the name of whether they call it azadi [independence], Islamic caliphate or Islam,” he had said.

Meanwhile, state Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said that Article 370 of the Constitution, which guarantees special status to the state, is the nation's commitment to the people of J-K and should be honoured.

“Democracy is a battle of ideas and dialogue is the only way forward,” Mufti wrote on Twitter, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has a "huge mandate", can create history by changing the narrative on Jammu and Kashmir.