There is no point in holding a discussion with the separatists until they agree to adopt the Indian Constitution. Initiatives taken by earlier governments to hold talks yielded no results and future talks under similar circumstances will also be of no value
Jammu & Kashmir Governor, Satya Pal Malik, on June 22, stated that the Hurriyat Conference had considerably softened its stand and was willing to enter into a dialogue with the government. The Governor was speaking at a Doordarshan Television event in Srinagar and the comment was made as part of his larger exposition on the improved situation in the Valley since his taking over the gubernatorial responsibilities. He also mentioned that recruitment of militants and incidents of stone pelting had reduced under his watch.
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The comments of the Governor set the political ball rolling in the State as normally happens under such circumstances. The mainstream leaders like Farooq Abdullah urged the centre to take on the talks offer and include Pakistan also. “Better late than never,” was the euphoric reaction of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader, Mehbooba Mufti, even as she welcomed the “willingness of the Hurriyat Conference to hold talks.”
The Hurriyat, though taken by surprise, got its act together and chose The Indian Express to indicate its “positive response if a meaningful dialogue is initiated by New Delhi,” to which BJP National President and J&K in-charge Avinash Rai Khanna responded by stating, “our doors are open for anyone who wants to talk while keeping their faith in the Constitution of India.”
the Hurriyat is not interested in talks; it is simply trying to get over the setback caused by the dilution of support from its all-time ally—Pakistan The J&K BJP unit stated that the Hurriyat would need to “publicly acknowledge the indisputable status of Jammu & Kashmir and that it is an integral part of India,’’ and “commit their loyalty to the Constitution of India and seek talks only under its ambit.” “The Joint Resistance Leadership [Hurriyat] should publicly acknowledge the indisputable status of Jammu and Kashmir and it being an integral part of India. They should also commit their loyalty to Constitution of India and seek talks only under its ambit,” said the J&K BJP spokesperson Anil Gupta. His statements carried by The Indian Express were used by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn to give a twist to the proceedings with an article titled, “BJP dampens Hurriyat talk’s hopes.” The heading itself says it all and indicates the position of Islamabad on the issue.
The Hurriyat responded by expressing willingness to participate in a “purposeful” dialogue on Kashmir if New Delhi “ends ambiguity” and involves Islamabad in the process as well.
Thus, the Pandora’s Box opened by Governor Satya Pal Malik in his enthusiasm to paint a rosy picture of his term in office in J&K has ended in a whimper. Talks with the Hurriyat is a sensitive issue and the Governor should have made a statement of this nature only on getting a specific commitment from the conglomerate that they will sit for talks within the ambit of the Constitution of India which has been laid down as a precondition by the centre. There is nothing new in the Hurriyat expressing willingness to come on the negotiating table; the crux lies in accepting the parameters laid down by the centre and clearly there was no indication of it doing so.
Practically speaking, there is no point in holding a discussion with the separatists until they agree to adopt the Indian Constitution and that they are not willing to do. It is for this reason that initiatives by earlier governments to hold talks yielded no results and future talks under similar circumstances will also be of no value.
It is important to give a clear message that Jammu & Kashmir is an integral part of India and no talk of its secession will be tolerated. If the Hurriyat wishes to make the lives of the people miserable by indulging in social disruption, so be it. The matter will be dealt with as a law and order problem.
Notwithstanding the proposed dialogue, the fact remains that the conglomerate is beset with internal dissensions and policy paralysis. It has nothing new to offer and nor is it willing to root for any idea that can change the situation. It continues to remain divorced from the true aspirations of the people who want nothing more than a peaceful existence and an opportunity to progress within the ambit the Indian democratic system.
One cannot but agree with the statement by BJP spokesperson Anil Gupta saying, “The Joint Resistance Leadership of Hurriyat does not represent the majority of Kashmiris. They are responsible for the senseless killings of Kashmiris by the Kashmiris at the behest of Pakistan. None of the Hurriyat leaders has signalled any change in their stance and continue to promote separatism.” We must not forget that just a month back, in May-June, the Hurriyat Conference was instrumental in calling for a boycott of the Lok Sabha elections in the State.
The simple fact is that the Hurriyat is not interested in talks; it is simply trying to get over the setback caused by the dilution of support from its all-time ally—Pakistan. The neighbouring country, gripped by internal strife can barely keep alive its “moral and diplomatic” support to Kashmir which, in real terms, implies that the unending flow of funds is severely restricted. Such a situation spells disaster for the separatists and they are desperate to reverse the same. The only recourse left for this dormant political force is to become a part, however insignificant, of a dialogue process. At best they can get some concessions to save their political careers. Thus, the conglomerate wants to ride on the shoulder of the Government of India to offset its precarious position. The bottom line is that talks with the centre are in the interest of the separatists rather than the other way round.
This is, as it is, not a good time to initiate any type of dialogue. The Shri Amarnath Yatra is slated to commence in a few days, The possibility of progress in dialogue, however small and improbable, will be a catalyst enough for the terrorist elements to scuttle the same with an incident or two. It serves no purpose to ruffle feathers at his stage.
As things stand there is no reason to open dialogue with the separatists. They should, instead, be encouraged to stand for elections, create a representative character and then make demands as the legitimate representatives of their people. The changing of colours with the change of weather is now an old, shoddy philosophy which should be discouraged.
(The writer is an author, columnist and commentator)