Around 37 delegations met the centres new interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma on his second day in Valley. A predominant majority of them are both insignificant and obscure. And more than the individuals representing them, it is their names that underlines this fact. Among them were the two members of some Child Protection Committee Waterhail Budgam headed by one Irshad Hussain, three members associated with the All Kashmir Auto Rickshaw Association led by one Showkat Ahmad and more interestingly the three members of the Rahul Gandhi Fans Association headed by one Peerzada Mohammad Shafi.
Other delegations who called on Sharma included one-man Shiv Sena, NGOs Red Winter Youth Organisation, 216 Transit Camp Badami Bagh and State Employees Working Women’s Association the Travel Agents J&K Association. One of the groups was called J&K Political Migrant Front.
There were more political delegations other than Shiv Sena, one of them some J&K Watan Parast Party, another Rashtriya Manch and still another Tehreek-e-Insaf. There was Janata Dal United and the Lok Janshakti Party too. One political group which met Sharma was called Rashtriya Samajwadi Party.
This is almost like centre making a mockery of its own political initiative on the state and detracting from its seriousness. This prompted the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to urge Sharma to leave his guest house in Srinagar for his initiative to make some difference. As was clear from the nature of the delegations that visited Sharma at his guest house, such meetings defeated the very purpose of the interlocuting and made it look like a childish exercise.
True Sharma went to meet National Conference and the other smaller political groups in the state but it amounts to little more than courtesy calls. The mainstream parties in Kashmir hardly advance the cause of the resolution of the political issues underpinning the festering turmoil in the state. The process is unlikely to move. That is also because the narroweness of Sharmas mandate from New Delhi is only matched by the absoluteness of the separatist demand in Valley. While centre at the maximum may not go beyond some phraseological re-adjustments on Kashmir, separatist constituency in Valley wants a fundamental shift in the relations between the state and the Union. And then there is the pertinent question of whether the interlocutor himself means to bridge this vast chasm.
The real problem in the state is between the maximalist position in the Valley and an entrenched status quoesque mindset in New Delhi which in past seventy years hasn’t given an inch of a concession to any secessionist demand – be it Northeast, Punjab, Tamil Nadu or Kashmir. And then there is Pakistan factor too. This overarching backdrop turns the current political exercise as little more than a puny effort which can’t but evoke a feeling of being doomed from the start.
One can only hope that Sharmas first visit is exploratory in nature, geared to make sense of the complex ground situation in the state. However, this in no way, lessens the anxiety about the future. With the pro-freedom camp, which should be his primary focus of attention in the state, remaining cut off from the initiative, Sharma will not even be able to put together a credible process of engagement, let alone formulate a tentative outline of some solution.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.