ANCHOR / BLUNT BUTCHER
JAMMU: Last week Home Minister Rajnath Singh travelled to Kashmir to drop a broad but vague hint that the Centre was ready to talk to anyone in the Valley. The invitation or the offer was not individual or the party specific. But Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti immediately took cue from the Centre’s peacenik and urged the Hurriyat Conference to seize this ‘golden opportunity’ and engage with New Delhi in a meaningful dialogue. She too dropped a hint, saying that the proposed talks could lead to political process.
Sources told STATE TIMES that the separatists will use the offer to their advantage to blackmail the Centre by seeking dilution of cases against them and release of those arrested last year.
The spin given to the Home Minister’s generic statement is indicative of the extent the Centre is ready to go in Kashmir to buy peace, no matter what cost. He did not qualify his offer either during the Srinagar visit or after returning back to the national capital. Hypothetically, if the Hurriyat agrees to sit on a negotiation table for a constructive dialogue, which seems next to impossible, does the Centre or the political mainstream expect its leaders to don the mantle of power, no matter the nomenclature or nature of the arrangement to be?
The obtaining political developments assume significance in the backdrop of cases pending against separatists including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and who’s who of the separatist amalgam. Wittingly or unwittingly, the Centre has given a lever to the separatist by offering dialogue process, which they may hammer as per their will. The immediate fall-out of the so-called offer is going to seal the fate of National Investigation Agency’s cases against chronic separatists. Most probably, the ‘blackmail’ must have begun. The first and foremost demand of the separatists would be to have the NIA cases diluted and all those arrested released. The NIA and Enforcement Directorate have arrested high profile separatists including Shabir Shah, Farooq Ahmed Dar alias Bitta Karate, Nayeem Khan, Raja Mehrajuddin Kalwal, Peer Saifullah, Aftab Hilali Shah alias Shahid-ul-Islam and Aiyaz Akbar Khaney and Altaf Ahmed Shah alias Fantoosh Geelani, the son-in-law of separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others. Geelani’s son Naeem Geelani too had been summoned several times.
The arrest of second rung separatists had hit a big blow to Kashmir Intifaada. For some time the incidents of stone-throwing had come down significantly, thanks to noose tightened by NIA around the necks of perpetrators. And, as it has been happening in Kashmir, the rhetoric of dialogue and Confidence Building Measures made all the difference. Mainstream outfits set in motion the demand for dialogue, systematically and strategically, essentially to put bait to New Delhi to halt the operations against hawala racketeers, money launderers, seditious elements and those perpetrating acts of violence. The game-plan worked; Centre fell in the trap and the law enforcing agencies went slow in their investigations and subsequent actions against separatists under the mistaken belief of winning over them. Such exercises are being undertaken meticulously in Kashmir and their initiators know well about the prospect of any dialogue process on internal and external dimensions of the K-issue. In fact, this exercise went too far this Ramadan by seeking halt in the operations against terrorists, known in Kashmir parlance as ceasefire, at a time when security forces were having a decisive edge over terrorists, who were made to run for their lives. But unfortunately the process was halted to give some breathing space to terrorists and their harbourers. The consequences are visible. Every alternate day, the security forces are becoming soft targets of pampered terrorists. Only yesterday two policemen were killed, notwithstanding the observance of Shab-e-Qadar. The terrorists are mocking unilateral Ramadan ceasefire.
New Delhi has always failed to gauge the mood in Kashmir. If even after the seven decades of the partition in general and the past nearly three decades of the gun-culture in the Valley in particular the Government of India has not understood the Kashmir psyche, it can never ever understand it. Those believing in talks with Kashmir separatists will bring peace in the Valley are terribly wrong. Kashmiri separatists will never ever give up the misadventure unleashed against India, no matter the backchannel initiatives of the political actors or interlocutors. Separatists will not go beyond strategizing their posturing from time-to-time as per their needs to seek favours and concessions from New Delhi by indulging in blackmail and bullying tactics. Believe sources, the blackmail has already begun. First the separatists will seek dilution of NIA cases and later they will switch over to the demand of releasing all separatists for initialing talks, which will never happen.
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