India sends ex-spy to Kashmir for talks

Home Minister Rajnath Singh Dineshwar Sharma will initiate the sustained dialogue to understand legitimate aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir

GoI to start J&K dialogue, ex-IB chief Dineshwar Sharma to represent centre: Rajnath

Dineshwar Sharma, the government's choice for starting a sustained dialogue with the people of Jammu & Kashmir, comes to the talks table with considerable experience and sound knowledge of all issues pertaining to Kashmir.

"As a Representative of Government of India, former Director of IB, Dineshwar Sharma will initiate a sustained interaction and dialogue to understand legitimate aspirations of people in Jammu and Kashmir", Singh said while addressing a hurriedly-convened press conference.

"Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: ".Will keep an open mind & wait to see results of the dialogue process". The Home Minister said that this step of the govt was in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi " s Independence Day speech in which he had said that "Kashmir's solution was neither in abuse nor in bullets, but in embracing Kashmiris'.

Asked whether the interlocutor, who will have cabinet rank, would hold talks with Hurriyat leaders, Rajnath Singh appeared not to rule that out.

The CM said she hopes that the stakeholders would contribute to the dialogue process so that J&K can be taken out of this mess and bloodshed. The group of concerned citizens led by him had also urged the Centre to start talks in Kashmir saying "recent statements hold promise for the Kashmiris".

"And for this, we have chose to appoint Dineshwar Sharma as special representative of the Government of India", he said.

A Kerala-cadre, 1979-batch IPS officer who retired as director of Intelligence Bureau in December 2016, Sharma was posted in Kashmir way back in 1992, when militancy there was at its peak.

Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday welcomed the Centre's announcement and said that was the only way forward. He will be leading the fourth official initiative of the Centre to hold dialogue with all stakeholders in Kashmir.

Senior Congress leader and former finance and home minister P Chidambaram, who had also announced a similar exercise in 2010, said the government has admitted that its "muscular approach" has failed in the state. "Who gets to decide what is legitimate?" he tweeted. So, for now, we'll take what we can get.

He further said that the initiative was a victory for those who had all along been advocating a political solution in the state as the government has been forced to change its approach from "No talks" to "Talks with all stakeholders".

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