Release them

It holds a promise apparently to be kept. Two important developments have simultaneously   taken place with regard to Kashmir problem during the past one month. One, the problem once aga...

It holds a promise apparently to be kept. Two important developments have simultaneously   taken place with regard to Kashmir problem during the past one month. One, the problem once again shot into international prominence after it dominated the discussions between India and Pakistan on the sidelines of 63rd annual session of the United Nations and the OIC appointed a special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir and two, New Delhi after a lull of two years started showing interest in the resumption of dialogue with Kashmir leaders more particularly with Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Chairman APHC (M). It is not of importance at this stage if the two developments are  symbiotic and connected to each other or are isolated but what is more significance is New Delhi coming out of 'no-talk' post 26/11 mindset. It is true that so far New Delhi has not made any formal offer to the APHC (M) but has been only dropping hints about resumption of dialogue with the Kashmir leaders espousing "the cause of right to self-determination". Notwithstanding there is lot of haziness in the 'hints-dropped' and there is no clarity about the agenda for the proposed talks but what has been significant has been the response shown by the APHC (Mirwaiz). There seems a sea change in Kashmir leadership both combatant and non-combatant during the past few years towards the process of dialogue. It has  not only  shunned its aversion to it but has been responding positively to the idea provided it leads to the ending of the political uncertainty in the state that has consumed thousands of humans, destroyed property worth billions of rupees and eaten into the vitals of the state economy. There is hardly any political organization or leader in the state who is disinclined to holding of a meaningful, purposeful and result oriented dialogue between all the contending parties.
It bodes well that the Hurriyat leaders have shown a positive response to the hints dropped. The Hurriyat (M) leaders and some leaders outside its ambit have had talks at the highest level with both the NDA and UPA governments but these talks failed to make much headway for the lack of consensus amongst Kashmir leaders and some serious dissenting voices raised against the process. It seems that the Kashmir leaders who were engaged with New Delhi at various levels and had talks with the top leadership of India and Pakistan have learnt that talks in isolation of other stakeholders do not hold much water. There have been agreements and accords between New Delhi and Srinagar in the past also but they failed to live beyond a period for the failure of Government of India to take on board all the dissenting voices in the State. In the context of history of previous accords the Chairman APHC Mirwaiz Umar Farooq talking of a consensus amongst all Kashmir leaders and then starting a meaningful dialogue needs to be taken in right spirit. It is encouraging that Syed Ali Geelani has not shown aversion to the proposed dialogue between Kashmir leaders and New Delhi. He has rightfully asked for lifting of restrictions on his movement and release of all his party leaders and workers for enabling him to hold discussions with his rank and file on the question of entering into a dialogue with New Delhi along with Mirwaiz Farooq. The entire leadership and host of workers of his faction of Hurriyat Conference are behind the bars with PSA slapped against majority of them. Besides his faction of the Hurriyat Conference there other important leaders like Shaibir Ahmed Shah under detention. If the GoI is serious about initiating talks with the APHC (M) and other leaders for ending of the uncertainty it needs to create a conducive atmosphere for holding the dialogue. To add seriousness to its overtures for initiating the dialogue instead of utilizing the services of some politicians having political stakes in the state it needs to appoint a special envoy for initiating the process. To facilitate the dialogue it needs to encourage Kashmir leaders arriving at a  consensus   by lifting restriction on the assembly of people and releasing all the political prisoners held in different jails of the state and outside.

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