Kashmiri separatists say ready for talks with Centre if Pakistan included, denounce conflicting statements by New Delhi

Srinagar: Two days after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the government can hold the talks with Hurriyat Conference if they come forward, the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), a conglomerate of separatists, said on Tuesday that it was ready to hold talks with New Delhi.

On Saturday, Rajnath expressed willingness to hold a dialogue with the Hurriyat leadership. A meeting of the JRL was held this afternoon at the residence of Hurriyat (G) chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani at Hyderpora and was attended by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yaseen Malik and Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq.

Sources said that the separatists were ready for dialogue with the Government of India (GoI) at the level of the prime minister or home minister. The JRL discussed the dialogue offer by Rajnath but has rued the conflicting statements that have come from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. While Modi in his recent visit to Kashmir highlighted the need for development, Swaraj has said that the talks won't be possible with Pakistan if the cross-border "terrorism" continues.

 Kashmiri separatists say ready for talks with Centre if Pakistan included, denounce conflicting statements by New Delhi

A file photo of Hurriyat leaders. Reuters

Sources said that the separatists would join the talks if "a clear roadmap" is spelt out by New Delhi. The JRL has, however, said that for the dialogue over the resolution of Kashmir problem the talks should also involve Pakistan.

"For a political redressal of the conflict, dialogue among stakeholders is the best process and option available. As Jammu and Kashmir is a divided territory and half of it is in Pakistan, this dispute has three stakeholders – India, Pakistan and people of this land. The meaningful talks based on a clear agenda underlined by sincerity among the three stakeholders is an assured and peaceful way to resolve the conflict of Kashmir in all its forms and dimensions," the JRL said in a statement.

"The absence of any one stakeholder in the process will not yield any solution. It is also important to have transparency in such a process and an assurance from all sides that promises and pledges made will be honoured. Talks that are so held keeping in view the concerns and needs of stakeholders, especially the most afflicted party, to the satisfaction of all will surely be successful and result oriented," the statement said.

"Any effort that GoI makes in this direction will find takers in Kashmir and Pakistan. Let GoI give clarity on what it wants to talk about and speak in one language... we are ready to join the process. The stakes for people of Kashmir are very high... we have invested heavily in our struggle for our right to self-determination and cannot afford to be part of an ambiguous effort that has no clarity and direction," it added.

After the meeting, the separatists refused to be quoted. JKLF leader Malik said that following the meeting, the JRL decided to issue a joint statement which talks about the stance of separatists on holding a dialogue with New Delhi.

The JRL further said that "statements emanating regarding talks in the course of last few days from different people at the helm of affairs in New Delhi are unclear and ambiguous. While Rajnath says there should be dialogue with both Kashmir and Pakistan, Swaraj puts a rider and says no talks with Pakistan unless terror is stopped and then Amit Shah gives a spin to the ceasefire, that it's not for militants but people while the state DG had issued a statement that it's for militants to come back home," the statement added.

"Modi said in Srinagar that the panacea to the Kashmir problem, according to him, is development and peace is a prerequisite for that to happen, putting the onus of bringing peace on people while absolving the Government of India of all role and responsibility. He deliberately chose to ignore the historical background of the Kashmir problem, it's internal and external dimensions, the reason for the presence of lakhs of his troops here, the daily aggression and the highly volatile situation on the ground and near the LoC, in the conflict-ridden region. It was like Modi was playing a cruel joke on the people," the JRL said.

"Then, a few days back, Rajnath said that they are ready to talk to Pakistan and Hurriyat to which Swaraj added riders and caveats and Shah put out his clarifications, not to upset his electoral calculations. Now the question is what are these talks about which Singh is referring? What is the agenda of these talks? Is it be about Modi’s suggestion of development? JRL does not want to score points by highlighting the discrepancies and conflicts in their statements but wants to understand what GoI is conveying through them to respond accordingly," the JRL said.

"Since people of Jammu and Kashmir are at the receiving end of the lingering 70-year old conflict, being the worst affected, we are most keen to find an end to it. And hence have always advocated that being a political and human issue, it needs to be addressed likewise, not militarily as GoI has been doing. And for a political redressal of the conflict dialogue among stakeholders is the best process and option available."

The JRL meeting came against the backdrop of the dip in the level of violence in Kashmir after a halt in the anti-militancy operations by the government forces in the ongoing month of Ramzan. Rajnath earlier announced a unilateral ceasefire even as the militants rejected it and continue the attacks on the forces.

The state government and Jammu and Kashmir Police allowed the meeting of JRL as Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had earlier welcomed the offer of dialogue by Rajanth, while the police have said that the situation has improved in Kashmir after the announcement of Ramzan ceasefire. The separatists have been otherwise remaining under house-arrest and their meetings were not allowed earlier.

Mehbooba has said that there was a positive outcome on the ground on account of the Ramzan ceasefire and hoped that Hurriyat Conference "will seize the opportunity and show their responsibility towards the people of the state by displaying the much-needed maturity so that the opportunity is not wasted." She further said, "peaceful engagement among all the stakeholders in the state is urgently needed" and "dialogue is the only way forward for resolving issues."

In Kashmir, the situation has improved considerably and except for the killing of a civilian by forces after an attack by militants on an army camp in Pulwama on Sunday night, the situation has largely remained peaceful.

While the forces have not launched anti-militancy operations inside Kashmir, however cross-border shelling and operations to foil infiltration of militants from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) along the international border (IB) and the Line of Control (LoC) have continued. On the day Rajnath said that the government was ready for talks with separatists, five militants were killed along the LoC in Kupwara as the forces foiled an infiltration bid.

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Updated Date: May 29, 2018 18:45:12 IST