Nearly a month before the Government of India (GoI) appointed former intelligence bureau chief Dineshwar Sharma as its “representative” for dialouge in Jammu and Kashmir, a United States diplomat visited the state’s summer capital city Srinagar and met state ministers, civil society activists and journalists “to know the ground situation and understand the feasibility of a dialogue”.
On September 27, Joshua Goldberg, political unit chief at the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs in Washington DC, visited Srinagar along with David Arulanantham, an official from the US Embassy in New Delhi, The Indian Express reported Saturday.
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis had arrived in India a day earlier — the first cabinet-level visit to India under the Trump administration.
Goldberg and David stayed for a night and met three ministers in the Mehbooba Mufti government, human rights lawyer Parvez Imroz, Khurram Parvez of Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society and two journalists, the newspaper reported.
Lone said he does not remember the meeting with Goldberg. “I do meet visiting diplomats. I don’t remember this particular meeting,’’ he said.
Goldberg also met Molvi Imran Raza Ansari, senior PDP leader and Minister for Information Technology, Technical Education and Youth Services & Sports, at his Rainawari residence.
The third minister Goldberg met was Chering Dorjay, BJP leader from Leh and Minister of Cooperatives and Ladakh Affairs. “It was a courtesy call. I knew the previous ambassador. There was nothing serious,’’ Dorjay said.
“He was, in diplomatic style, enquiring about the scope for dialogue and whether Kashmiris would welcome dialogue,’’ one among those who met Goldberg told The Indian Express. “He also wanted to know the ground situation, especially after last year’s agitation and spurt in militant recruitment.”
A spokesperson for the US Embassy said: “Officers from the US Embassy in New Delhi routinely travel throughout the country to learn about conditions in different states and meet with members of the government and civil society. As a matter of policy, we do not discuss specifics of our meetings.”
On October 23, India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh had announce the decision to appoint former Intelligence Bureau director Dineshwar Sharma as a “representative” who would “initiate and carry forward a dialogue with the elected representatives, various organisations and concerned individuals in the State of Jammu and Kashmir”.
The announcement was made on the eve of the visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to India who visited New Delhi on October 24.
(Featured image: Dineshwar Sharma)