September 2016 News

Centre Hardens Stance, Will Not Hold Talks With Kashmir Separatists

8 September 2016
The Hindustan Times
DK Singh

New Delhi: The Centre will not hold talks with separatists in Kashmir as it aims to 'first establish the primacy of the State' by quelling attempts to topple an elected state government through violence, government sources said on Thursday. The hardening of the NDA government's stance is based on assessment that the current unrest in the Valley is 'quite different' from those in the past as it has 'excessive religious dimensions' and its objective is to establish 'a theocratic state'. The government was earlier open to talks with all stakeholders , a stance reiterated on Wednesday by Union minister Jitendra Singh after a meeting of the all-party delegation that visited Jammu & Kashmir on September 4-5. A senior government functionary said that there has been 'improvement' in the situation in the Valley where 62 people - unofficial estimates put the number at 75 - have lost their lives in clashes between security forces and protesters since the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani on July 8. 'There is a distinction between separatists and people. As far as people are concerned, we have full compassion. But when it comes to dealing with separatists, there is no scope of the government of India blinking,' said a senior government functionary. Hurriyat leaders are not seen as a significant player in the Valley today and they are only trying to 'get in' and gain relevance when the protesting youth are 'not in their control'. Professor Noor Ahmad Baba who teaches political science at Kashmir University also said the '(current) movement is not driven by Hurriyat leaders'. 'It is happening spontaneously. They (separatists) have a limited area of influence,' Baba told HT. In 2014, India called off foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan after its high commissioner Abdul Basit 'made Hurriyat leaders a stakeholder' by inviting and meeting them. Until then Hurriyat leaders would seek meetings with visiting Pakistani leaders or the high commissioner. The NDA government is also '101 % convinced' about Pakistan's role in the current unrest in Kashmir and chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has conveyed the same to the Centre. But it is concerned about 'radicalisation' in Kashmir that has witnessed a shift 'from Sufism to Wahabism', which is attributed to the proliferation of new religious structures in the past decade and indoctrination of the people. The Wahabi sect follows a radical interpretation of Islam. The Centre is also learnt to be disinclined to entertain demands for full or partial withdrawal of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (Afspa) because the state police does not have adequate capacity to deal with terrorism.