Kashmir interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma to have a direct line with J-K residents

Jammu and Kashmir residents will soon be able to directly get in touch with the Centre’s interlocutor for the state, Dineshwar Sharma, over the phone and through email, government sources have told HT.

A former Intelligence Bureau chief, Sharma was in October tasked by the Centre to talk to all stakeholders to find a solution to the 30-year-old insurgency in the border state.

“Sharma’s office will soon announce a dedicated phone number and email address for registering complaints of the Jammu and Kashmir residents,” a government official told Hindustan Times on Wednesday. The officer spoke on the condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.

Sharma will also have three officers as point persons for three regions of the state – the Kashmir Valley, Jammu and Ladakh – to address the grievances of the local population.

The officers, likely to be drawn from the state, would remain in touch with the J&K government to ensure that all grievances were addressed in a time-bound manner, sources said.

In a month since his appointment, Sharma has visited the Valley and Jammu region twice and spoken to groups of youth, women and traders as also members of political parties.

 “The delegations that met Sharma spoke about lack of basic amenities like bijli and pani (electricity and water). Some asked for jobs. Harassment by police and other security forces was another of their major grievances,” said a home ministry official familiar with the discussions Sharma has held so far.

There was a broad agreement that now was the time for healing touch and quick redressal of grievances, the official said.

The Centre hardened its hard stand against violence in the Valley before starting the dialogue process. More than 200 militants have been killed in Kashmir this year.

Sharma also managed to break ice with the Hurriyat Conference and met separatist leader Abdul Gani Bhat twice. Bhat is a former chairman of the All Party Hurriyat Conference and is now with the moderate faction of the separatist conglomerate led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani, a hardliner, has so far refused to talk to Sharma.

“Premature” revelation about Sharma’s meetings with Bhat in the media forced on the back foot the other separatist leaders who wanted to talk to the interlocutor, sources said.

But officials are hopeful that other separatist leaders, too, would join the peace effort.

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