In his speech on August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared from the ramparts of the Red Fort that problems in Jammu and Kashmir could be solved neither by bullet nor by abuse but by embracing the people. It was a hint of a deviation from the past policy that no dialogue would be held until the stone pelting was stopped. It is a fact that can hardly be denied that the intricate issue of Kashmir can be solved only through dialogue. Just after Independence, Pakistan attacked Kashmir and grabbed a portion of the border state and the status quo was ordered by the UNO. It was an attempt to sabotage the accession of J&K with India in the wake of an agreement with the king of the princely state Hari Singh. However, the Congress governments at the centre tried their best to bring the people to the mainstream and successful elections were held in which a considerable number of voters participated. It was an achievement of the Congress rule in the country. However, the problem was kept alive by Pakistan which adopted a policy of cross-border terrorism and resorted to funding the extreme elements in Kashmir that are represented by a section of the Hurriyat Conference.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a mad craving for power opted for the BJP-PDP alliance in the state. It was the first government in the state in which the BJP was part of the ruling alliance but this proved the worst government in the state. Amidst protests by the people, students and youth being in the forefront, there was hardly any long interlude of peace in the state. Stone pelting incidents occurred with more frequency than ever in the past and the centre insisted that there would be no dialogue till the stone pelting was stopped. This is the backdrop against which an interlocutor was appointed on Octorber 23. The Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said former Intelligence Bureau director Dineshwar Sharma was appointed as interlocutor for Kashmir and he is authorized to hold talks with all political parties and sections of society. Sharma said he could rise to the expectations of the people of the country and would try his best to see that normalcy returns to the state. He is authorized to hold negotiations with different political leaders and social activists, but he can neither solve the problems of the people nor can he assure redressal of their grievances. In the past such attempts bore no fruits. Then what is the guarantee that Sharma would succeed? The Vajpayee government also appointed K C Pant as Kashmir interlocutor and the UPA government set up a three-member team to hold talks and study the situation. Now it is clear that the extremist Hurriyat group is echoing Pakistan’s voice as they are getting funds from that country. They are neither in contact with the people nor representing the large sections of the people. The National Conference which ruled the state many a time with the Congress is voicing for autonomy under Article 370.
Congress leader P Chidambaram spoke of the autonomy and he said when people in Kashmir ask for “azadi” most of them want autonomy. “Therefore, I think we should seriously examine the autonomy demand. It is very much within the Constitution. Jammu and Kashmir will remain an integral part of India with some amount of autonomy.” he said. However, the Prime Minister criticized the Congress that it was supporting separatists sections in Kashmir. At present to counter the Hurriyat strategy the government should create jobs for the jobless youth in the state. These youth are being used as a tool by the extremist elements. The interlocutors did little in the past and this time also the history will be repeated.