Invoking “killings of Kashmiri youth” and Prime Minister Narendara Modi’s scathing attack on Congress leader P Chidambaram for advocating greater autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, JKLF chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik Wednesday said he was baffled that “some friends” were still optimistic about a dialogue with the Indian government’s representative Dineshwar Sharma.
Malik made the remarks a day after reports emerged of Sharma’s purported meeting with Prof Abdul Gani Bhat and another senior Hurriyat leader during his visit to Kashmir in the last week of November.
Bhat neither confirmed nor denied the meeting and said he was ready to “even talk to the devil if it is about Kashmir.”
“The JRL( joint resistance leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik) has reservations, and I don’t have. You see, they (the JRL) too are supporters of dialogue but they have reservations. I will even talk to devil if it is about Kashmir,” he told local media when asked about his meeting with Sharma.
The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman said the pro-freedom leadership wasn’t against dialogue.
“ I have met everyone. Haven’t I said I have met RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) members? I have met Leftists and Indians across the board, even the prime minister,” Malik said addressing a ‘Seerat Conference’ organised by the Mirwaiz Umar-led Hurriyat Conference in Srinagar.
“ No one among us demands autonomy. But when India’s former finance and home minister P Chidambaram spoke about autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir, Modi attacked him and accused him of betraying the sacrifices of Indian soldiers,” Malik said.
“Please make me understand, where under such circumstances is there a way for some Hurriyat leaders to meet the interlocutor? Where is the room for dialogue ? (When) the killings continue unabated, the bodies of our youths are on our shoulders, and the NIA is being used to coerce us. This is not acceptable to us,” Malik said.
“Our friends who put us on a path in 1980s need to ask themselves, ‘Do I feel somewhere accountable to them? Do I have a sense of belonging towards these people?’ Or go tell these youth that you are committing suicide. You can’t take pictures with the interlocutor while witnessing the killings of youth,” Malik said.
He said “our friends should desist from statements that create confusion.”
Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau chief, was appointed by the Indian government as its “representative” for “sustained dialogue and understanding the legitimate aspirations of people in Jammu and Kashmir” in October.
The JRL had dismissed his appointment as a “time-buying tactic” spurred by “international pressure and regional compulsions.”
Sharma’s assertion that he was coming to Kashmir with the directive from Government of India 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, the leaders had said in their first reaction to Sharma’s appointment.
They had also referred to Modi’s dismissal of autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir.
“If the Government of India even rejects the demand of its co-political party for restoration of autonomy guaranteed by its own Constitution, calling it a betrayal with soldiers and hence unacceptable, how will such a dispensation in New Delhi address or engage with the Kashmiri people’s political will and aspiration of self-determination for which people have been relentlessly struggling and sacrificing for the past 70 years,” the leaders had asked.