It's like homecoming: Govt's special representative on Kashmir

Home minister Rajnath Singh at the press conference in New Delhi on Monday

Singh today announced that former Intelligence Bureau director Dineshwar Sharma would be the central governments representative for initiating a dialogue with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Centre's decision Monday to appoint Dineshwar Sharma as an interlocutor for Jammu & Kashmir is driven by the precedent of current Governor N.N. Vohra being appointed interlocutor by the NDA government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

"The prime minister made an announcement from the Red Fort on independence day that the government needed to engage with Kashmiris", he said.

According to Singh, Sharma will try to understand the legitimate aspirations of people through the sustained dialogue process.

The state's former chief minister, Omar Abdullah, welcomed the news as a victory over those advocating the use of force to tackle the insurgency, but warned the scope of the talks would be key to their success. "Who gets to decide what is legitimate?" he tweeted.

Former finance minister P Chidambaram said that the move showed that the government's "muscular approach" had failed in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Modi government had so far refused to include separatists in any dialogue, insisting it would talk only to those who recognised the entirety of Kashmir, including sections controlled by Pakistan and China, as part of India. With this sustained dialogue centre to initiate the interactions with the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Not one to grab headlines, Sharma was appointed by the government as an interlocutor for peace talks with insurgent groups in Assam in June this year.

Addressing the media, Rajnath Singh said that the rank of the former IB Director, Dineshwar Sharma, will be equivalent to that of a Cabinet Secretary.

"The times were tough and I hope that now we will together bring peace in the Valley", he said.

Asked whether the appointment of the interlocutor would have a bearing on the NIA investigations going on against the separatists, she said: "Security is a separate issue and the political process is a separate issue".

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