When Was The Last Time Delhi Offered Talks To Hurriyat?

SRINAGAR — Home Minister Rajnath Singh has blamed Hurriyat Conference for not being receptive to centre’s overtures for dialogue over the past four and a  half years. He said Hurriyat closed its doors when the all party delegation tried to hold talks with its leaders.

“We asked all-party delegation to go and talk to them (Hurriyat leaders). When they (delegation) went, they (Hurriyat leaders) closed their doors,” Singh told Rajya Sabha on Thursday. 

He also tried to dispel the impression that the BJP government was against dialogue with the separatists. 

“It was perceived that the BJP was not willing to talk to Hurriyat leaders and for this reason, there was a moment of status quo in the situation,” he said.

In response, Hurriyat has denied that the centre ever offered an unconditional dialogue. 

“To put the record straight, there was never any offer of unconditional talks at any point by the Government of India. On the contrary, all the efforts by the government have been towards a military solution with a view to integrate Kashmir and even to do away with its special status,” Hurriyat (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said addressing Friday gathering at the Grand Mosque. 

Mirwaiz is correct. The BJP government at the centre has never appeared inclined, let alone serious, about holding talks with Hurriyat. True, the all party delegation made an effort to reach out in 2016 and it was certainly rebuffed by Hurriyat G chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani but it is also true that Mirwaiz and JKLF supremo Yasin Malik  did engage with them.

One more thing,  while the home minister now claims that the delegation was sent by the government, at the time he had antiseptically distanced from it and termed the decision of some of the members of the  delegation to visit separatists as impromptu and personal.

Having said that, there were no subsequent efforts to hold talks with Hurriyat. On the contrary, the centre put onus on the separatists to come forward for dialogue and never made a direct and unconditional public offer itself. 

On its part, Hurriyat too didn’t show any sign of revisiting its stance on the engagement, saying it wanted an unconditional dialogue geared to address Kashmir issue and which also took Pakistan on board.

The situation thus remains hopelessly deadlocked with both sides choosing to tentatively approach each other rather than directly working out the mutual terms for engagement. But the latter  is easier said than done. More so, for the BJP-led government in New Delhi which has adopted a hawkish line on Kashmir and banks exclusively on a militaristic approach to quell the militancy.

Also, with general elections just five months away, it is already too late to even think in terms of dialogue let alone holding it. One can only hope that a new government at the centre understands the futility of a muscular approach towards Kashmir and reverts to dialogue and empathy to address the situation.

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