India appoints another interlocutor to ‘understand legitimate aspirations’ of J&K

India’s former spy chief Dineshwar Sharma, appointed as New Delhi’s new interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to “understand the legitimate aspirations of people,” will visit the state in “8 to 10 days.”

Government of India Monday said it has decided to start a sustained dialogue on J&K. Addressing a hurriedly-convened press conference, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said former director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) Dineshwar Sharma  would be the government’s representative to initiate dialogue with all “stakeholders” in J&K.

“As a Representative of Government of India, former Director of IB, Dineshwar Sharma will initiate a sustained interaction and dialogue to understand legitimate aspirations of people in Jammu and Kashmir, particularly its youth,” Singh said.

” Now what we will do for Jammu and Kashmir, will do with clean intention,” he said.

Asked whether the new interlocutor, who will have cabinet rank, would hold talks with Hurriyat leaders, Rajnath Singh appeared not to rule out such a possibility. Sharma, an old Kashmir hand, had a mandate to hold a dialogue “with anyone he wants,” Singh said.

Sharma, a 1979-batch (retired) Indian Police Service officer of Kerala cadre, served as the IB director between December 2014 and 2016.  According to news agency PTI, he served in Kashmir at the peak of militancy in 1992, after completing a year of customary training at the Intelligence Bureau headquarters in New Delhi.

Sharma was the head of state Intelligence Bureau of Uttar Pradesh when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh was the chief minister, along with heading the “X” branch, which looks after all the vital intelligence collection in India, including the political desk.

Sharma also worked with the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval during the latter’s stint as the IB chief. He has “intimate knowledge of the security situation and Kashmir affairs,” according to news agency IANS, and will submit a report to the Indian government.

He has also headed the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Jammu and Kashmir and was the director of the BSF Academy, and Additional Director and Special Director in the IB.

Replying to questions, Singh said no time limit could be set whether it is three months or six months or more. “He can talk to anyone he wants.”

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had talked to all political parties as to what could be done to find a solution to Kashmir problems.

“People told us that the dialogue process should be started. We are doing this,” he said and recalled the Prime Minister’s August 15 speech saying “neither by bullet, nor by abuses but by embracing the people we can solve the problems in Jammu and Kashmir”.

Sharma, who will be visitng the state in 8-10 days, told news agency ANI, “It’s a big responsibility, hope I live up to expectations.” He said his priority was to “find a permanent solution and restore peace in J&K.”

( Featured image: Former IB Director Dineshwar Sharma meets Home Minister Rajnath Singh after being appointed as interlocutor for J&K.)

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