Centre Opens Back Channel Talks With Separatists

Centre Opens Back Channel Talks With Separatists

7 August 2013
The Daily Excelsior


Jammu: After a long time, the Government of India has opened back-door channels of talks with the separatists in the Kashmir Valley. Two top officials in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) were reported to have established secret contact with moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq recently. Official sources told the Excelsior that two top officials of the PMO had met the separatists from moderate faction in summer capital of Srinagar to ascertain their views on the talks with the Government of India. The PMO officials met with separatists separately and secretly. The PMO officials left Srinagar with some “positive signals’’. According to sources, the Government of India wanted to gauge the mood of moderate faction of separatists before sending them a formal invite for talks. “The Government didn’t want its invite to be rejected. So they wanted to be sure that the separatists would come forward for the talks. That was the purpose of the PMO officials’ visit to Srinagar and meeting with the separatists,’’ they said, adding the Centre was well aware of the mood of hard-line faction of Hurriyat Conference headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani that it was not going to come forward for talks and that was why the back channel diplomacy was not taken to the doors of Geelani. “Geelani was not going to meet the Centre’s representatives for talks,’’ they said, adding the Government of India has hopes on Mirwaiz faction and were confident that it would come forward for talks with some normal pre-conditions. Worthwhile to mention here that the Hurriyat Conference had held talks with then Deputy Prime Minister, Incharge Home, LK Advani during NDA regime. Since then, there had been no direct talks between the Centre and the separatists. The Union Home Ministry had appointed three Interlocutors-Dileep Padgaonkar, Prof Radha Kumar and MM Ansari for talks with representatives of Jammu and Kashmir after 2010 summer unrest. Though they had met a large section of people in all three regions of the State, the separatists had refused to meet them. Recently, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said that some of the separatists were preparing for contesting the Assembly election. He had also named Sajjad Lone among those, who could join the battle of ballots in the Assembly elections. Lone had earlier contested the Lok Sabha elections. Sources said once the channels of dialogue are opened with moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference and everything went well, the talks could be extended to other separatist leaders, who were willing to come forward for dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue.