‘Futile to expect Kashmir resolution from people who even reject autonomy for J&K’

Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s attack on senior Congress leader P Chidambaram over “greater autonomy” for J&K, the ‘Joint Resistance Leadership’ (JRL) Tuesday said it was “futile” to expect resolution of Kashmir issue from “people who term as unacceptable even the demand of autonomy for the state.”

The appointment of former IB chief Dineshwar Sharma as the Indian government’s “representative” was a time-buying tactic in wake of “international pressure and regional compulsions,” the JRL comprising Syed Ali Geelani , Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, said in a joint statement after a meeting in Srinagar.

In their first reaction eight days after Sharma’s appointment, the leaders asked how the Indian government would deal with “aspiration of self-determination” in 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,” they asked.

They said that Sharma’s assertion that he is 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 Government of India on October 23 appointed Sharma as its special representative for a “sustained dialogue” with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir and to understand the “legitimate aspirations of people.”

Sharma, with the rank of Cabinet Secretary, will have complete independence in deciding who to hold talks with, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said while making the announcement.

“The (much)-hyped appointment of Dineshwar Sharma by Government of India as its interlocutor for J&K is nothing more than a tactic to buy time, adopted under international pressures and regional compulsions and due to the abysmal failure of the state policy of military repression upon the people of Kashmir,” the statement quoted the leaders as saying.

The leaders took objection to Sharma’s recent 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 co-relation between the two situations,” they said.

They said in-principle they have always advocated and supported sincere and productive dialogue as a means of conflict resolution over Jammu and Kashmir.

“What it inherently entails from all participants to dialogue is the basic acknowledgment that there is a dispute that has to be resolved. But Government of India continuously refuses to accept this basic premise and the reality on the ground,” they added.

They said that unless the Kashmir dispute is understood and addressed in its historical context and in the background of international commitments made over it, lasting peace can neither be achieved in J&K nor in the subcontinent.

“While the repressive state militaristic approach continues in dealing with Kashmir, to talk of peace and dialogue is also a ploy by the Government of India to strike a hard bargain which people of Kashmir and leadership will never succumb to,” they added.

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