Word for Peace
The Centre’s newly appointed special representative to Jammu and Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, said on Wednesday that he aims to talk to a younger generation of Kashmiris in order to understand their problems and find a way of resolving them. This apart, he said, he also aims to try and meet Hurriyat leaders.
On the last day of his Kashmir visit, Sharma told Firstpost that he was “very much satisfied” with his maiden visit to the Valley, and would try to make every effort to meet the Hurriyat leaders during his next visit, which is slated for the last week of November. He will be arriving in Jammu on Thursday and will stay in the state’s winter capital for two days before winding up his five-day visit.
Dineshwar Sharma arrived in Kashmir four days ago. PTI
Sharma, known in the intelligence fraternity as the “gentleman spy”, said he had full faith in the youth of Kashmir, and said they could change the destiny of the state. “I have full faith in the people and youth of Kashmir. I think they will bring about change that is needed here,” Sharma told Firstpost at the house of state Congress chief Ghulam Ahmad Mir, who met him at Friends Colony near Srinagar Airport.
Sharma was appointed by the central government on 23 October to hold “peace talks” and a “sustained dialogue” with the Valley’s separatist leadership, in order to bring about normalcy to the state.
Close to a 100 people have been killed in violent clashes following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July last year, and thousands more are injured, many of them permanently disabled for life.
A campaign launched by security forces to wipe out the militants, who had joined different outfits after the killing of Wani, has left more than 170 dead, the highest in the last decade. At the same time, recruitment of youth into militancy is also at its highest level in the last seven years.
Sharma, a former director of the Intelligence Bureau, also called on National Conference working president Omar Abdullah at the latter’s residence on the highly fortified Gupkar Road, and CPM leader Yusuf Taragami on Wednesday. “Only serious, credible and meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders will help. The onus of restoring credibility to the dialogue process is on New Delhi,” Tarigami told reporters after meeting Sharma.
After his meeting, Abdullah said Sharma had asked for suggestions on the job assigned to him, and that sitting in a guesthouse and waiting for people to come and meet him won’t yield any results.
“I would say I am very happy to meet so many people from different shades of opinions, and it has been very fruitful till now,” Sharma told Firstpost.
The focus, Sharma said, has to be on the youth of Jammu and Kashmir, and that he would go to every extent to understand their problems and try to find out how they could be solved. He said this alone would bring prosperity and stability to the region.
Sources said that most of the people who met the interlocutor over the last three days, including 15 delegations on Monday, 37 on Tuesday, and eight on Wednesday had expressed concerns over news channels trying to vitiate the atmosphere in the Valley and creating an atmosphere of hatred towards Kashmiris outside the state.
“I agree, and some channels have done a lot of damage to Kashmir,” Sharma told a delegation of youth from Srinagar, who met him in Srinagar on Tuesday.
Various delegations have told Sharma that the negative perception generated by the Indian media has badly impacted the tourism industry in the Valley and businesses have also suffered because of the “sustained” negative coverage. “Our endeavour would be to see everything gets back to normal here. Only after that would there be a political solution,” he told another delegation inside Hari Niwas Guest house, an erstwhile interrogation centre which was the venue for the talks.
According to officials, at least 40 percent of the delegations who met Sharma over the last three days had directly contacted him.
During his next visit, Sharma is expected to visit the various districts of the Valley, particularly in south Kashmir. And it’s also likely that he may visit some colleges and meet students from the different districts. “I’m very hopeful that some positive results will be seen in the coming months,” he said.