Centre mulls bringing in bureaucrats for J-K talks
14 June 2004
The Indian Express
Bhavna Vij Aurora
New Delhi: Top government functionaries in charge of J-K security, today discussed the feasibility of holding a substantive dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference at the bureaucratic level, instead of political leadership. This came in the backdrop of Hurriyat leaders expressing reservations about talking to Home Minister Shivraj Patil, claiming him to be ‘‘too junior’’, and insisting on continuing the talks with the PM. At a meeting chaired by the Home Minister at North Block — to review the law and order and security in the state — the government decided to seek the views of Hurriyat leaders on the issue. ‘‘It was felt that the Hurriyat leaders could meet both the PM and the Home Minister, but for substantive dialogue, a team of J- K experts would take over,’’ said an official. The team could tentatively include National Security Advisor J.N. Dixit, Home Secretary Anil Baijal, Centre’s interlocutor on J-K N.N. Vohra and Director Intelligence Bureau K.P. Singh, sources said. It was also decided to get in touch with the Hurriyat to finalise the dates for the third round of talks. Vohra is likely to visit Srinagar this week for this purpose. Despite the Hurriyat’s reluctance, sources said the talks were bound to take place. ‘‘The Hurriyat leaders have their compulsions. Also, it is too soon after Mirwaiz Umer Farooq’s uncle’s death after a terrorist attack. The Hurriyat also has its internal elections in July. Moreover, they still have reservations about Vohra,’’ said the official.