Separatist leaders told us unrest not time for political dialogue: Sitaram Yechury

NEW DELHI,AMITA SHAH: Unlike last time, when the delegation managed to have an hour-long meeting with Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, this time Yechury and others could not meet him but had talks with four other separatist leaders. They told the Opposition delegation clearly that while unrest continued in Kashmir, they would not engage in any political dialogue, Yechury said in an interview to dna, a day after an all-party meeting. Following are excerpts from the interview:

With the government insisting on talks within framework of constitution and the Hurriyat leaders saying the government should first declare Kashmir disputed, how do you see a scope for dialogue?
We said it should be unconditional dialogue. You start talking. Begin the process and then lets see. I said that when the Prime Minister goes to SAARC, dialogue should be restarted.

Who is the face to reach out to?
There is no single face. It should be all stakeholders–five known factions of Hurriyat, political parties and members of civil society.

If your party was in power what would you have done?
Exactly this… Start a dialogue with a declaration that we should revisit everything from after Article 370 came into play. I am not saying go back to anything, but only that we should revisit to see things in today’s changed scenario.

The Hurriyat leaders refused to meet you in Srinagar. How do you see this approach?
It’s not correct to say they did not open doors for us. Out of five, four– Yasin Mallik, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Abdul Gani Bhat and Shabir Shah — met us. Geelani was the only one who did not. I was told he will not meet. Our primary target was people of Kashmir, to convey to them that we wanted to sincerely wanted to restore normalcy and that we understand.

And that we succeeded in conveying to the Kashmiri people.

What did the Hurriyat leaders convey to you?
All of them told us that when mayhem was going on, they will not engage in any political dialogue. It was not that they did not want to talk, but said this is not the time for it. We told them that even to contain the unrest, a political dialogue was necessary. The initiative, however, needs to come from government.

How do you see the government’s approach towards Hurriyat?
The government’s attitude was the same as that of the UPA regime in 2010, when they neither approved our outreach to Hurriyat nor disapproved. The home minister Rajnath Singh also said he will neither say yes nor no. Government has to say how it wishes to proceed. The resolution makes it clear that Centre and state must initiate political dialogue with stakeholders. The ball is in the government’s court and it has to take the initiative.

From your experience in 2010 and now, how is the unrest different from the past?
Today, it is much wider and deeper. It has moved in a big way into rural Kashmir. This was not the case in 2010. The coming out of women folk and children in such large numbers is a new phenomenon. This shows the depth of alienation that has grown since 2010. Both factors are in operation– the role of the separatists and influence from across the border and the other being promises made to people of Kashmir not being kept. The recommendations of the interlocutors were not carried forward in right earnest. This is what has deepened the trust deficit. So both elements have to be tackled.

During the two days, there were a large number of well-meaning people, doctors, large number of youth who had come beseeching restoration of normalcy.

Their point is government should take initiative. Another is that much of the disturbances is in South Kashmir which is a traditional PDP stronghold. With PDP leading the coalition, why is it happening. It shows a degree of disquiet over the alliance with the BJP. The important factor is government should tell us where is this alienated section moving to. It cannot be the Congress, NC, BJP or the known separatists. In this situation, the urgency of starting a political dialogue needs to be underlined. We hope the central and state governments take heed.

Posted by on September 9, 2016. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.