Futile to restart Kashmir talks, says Geelani


Srinagar: Separatist leaders in Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday termed as “futile” the government move to name three interlocutors for restarting the stalled peace process in the troubled state.

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“This is a futile exercise. The government of India is acting like deaf and dumb to the Kashmir situation,” Syed Ali Geelani, the hardline Hurriyat leader, told reporters here.

“By appointing the interlocutors, India only wants to delay addressing the real issue in Kashmir which is about the demand of freedom by the people,” he said.

The government earlier Wednesday named journalist Dilip Padgaonkar, Information Commissioner M.M. Ansari and academician Radha Kumar as its new interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir to re-start dialogue with “all shades of political opinion” and help bring peace in the troubled state.

Geelani, who is a passionate supporter of the state’s merger with Pakistan, said any dialogue with New Delhi could be possible only after the government accepts a five-point proposal that includes accepting Kashmir as an “international dispute”.

“We had announced five steps which would help create an atmosphere for a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue process that has been completed ignored,” Geelani added.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who heads the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Yasin Malik first said they would weigh the options before saying yes or no but criticised the move nevertheless.

The Mirwaiz said: “Interlocutors are appointed to know the point of view of the groups to be engaged in the dialogue process. The government of India knows our demand for freedom.

“What is the role of interlocutors selected from the civil society? We had proposed steps for creation of a conducive atmosphere for the dialogue process to begin and they have been totally ignored.”

Said Malik, who favours Jammu and Kashmir as an independent state: “It is not the problem of schools and colleges that can be solved by appointing academicians and members of the civil society as interlocutors.”