Centre Not To Hold Talks With Kashmir Separatists

1 May 2015
The Hindu
Varghese K. George

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government has no plans to engage with the Kashmiri separatists, a senior party source told The Hindu. The promise of such a process in the common agenda between the BJP and the Peoples Democratic Party, its partner in the Jammu and Kashmir coalition, is for the Chief Minister to implement at the State level, he said. 'The Union government will not engage with the separatists. The Chief Minister has to weigh the options and move forward at the State level, if he wants to,' the leader, who did not want to be identified, said. The 'Agenda for Alliance,' the common programme of the coalition, had promised to engage with separatist leaders. This was seen as a rethink in the Modi government's position; it had earlier ruled out any role for separatists in its Kashmir policy. The agenda cited the Vajpayee government initiating a dialogue process with all political groups, including the Hurriyat Conference. Sayeed going slow on AFSPA, talks with separatists Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed is in no hurry to reach out to the separatists, despite the promises made in the common agenda of the BJP-PDP alliance. Sources familiar with his thinking told The Hindu that given the volatile situation that prevails in the Valley and the precarious balance that he maintains in the relations with the BJP, Mr. Sayeed was 'cautious in pushing his agenda.' No review yet The State government is also not in a hurry to withdraw the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from parts of the State, another promise in the agenda. Speaking to the Headlines Today channel earlier this week, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti said the State government had not started the review process that could lead to revocation of the AFSPA from certain areas. Ms. Mufti said the government had only been in power for two months and the turbulence it faced had not permitted it to start action in many areas. Mr. Sayeed's willingness to temper his own agenda has been noted by the BJP, which is fully backing him. After the release of separatist leader Masarat Alam from jail, which the BJP said was decided without consulting it, Mr. Sayeed has been careful not to test the BJP's patience. 'Doubters won over' Meanwhile, the BJP has managed to silence rumblings within its fold that were apparent in the initial days of the alliance. At the BJP national executive in Bengaluru in April, party general secretary Ram Madhav made a presentation on the contours of the J&K alliance and won over the doubters, a party source said.