De-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion of youth to the fore

The Cen­tre’s new interlocutor and for­mer In­tel­li­gence Bureau chief Di­nesh­war Sharma says he will talk to ‘all In­dian ci­ti­zens’ to re­solve all is­sues in Kash­mir

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - YATISH YA­DAV @ New Delhi

NEWLY-AP­POINTED interlocutor for J&K, Di­nesh­war Sharma, would like to fo­cus on de-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion of youth in the val­ley and neu­tral­is­ing the threat posed by Pak­istanspon­sored ter­ror out­fits.

“If the sit­u­a­tion im­proves and nor­malcy returns to Kash­mir, then au­to­mat­i­cally the re­cruit­ment of lo­cals by ter­ror­ists groups based across the bor­der will stop,” the for­mer In­tel­li­gence Bureau chief said in an in­ter­view.

Sharma, known in the in­tel­li­gence fra­ter­nity as the gen­tle­man spy, ad­mit­ted that the task at hand was the big­gest chal­lenge he had ever faced on na­tional se­cu­rity. It would re­quire a di­verse strat­egy, crafti­ness and courage.

In­sta­bil­ity in Kash­mir is one of the defin­ing in­ter­nal se­cu­rity is­sue since in­de­pen­dence. The Cen­tre claims Pak­istan based re­cruiters are find­ing sanc­tu­ary in the re­gion, keep­ing the ter­ror pot boil­ing on the streets with their new breed of re­cruits. The NDA gov­ern­ment has been work­ing on a multi-pronged strat­egy to ad­dress the is­sues and for­mer In­tel­li­gence Bureau chief Di­nesh­war Sharma has come on board as Cen­tre’s interlocutor at a crit­i­cal mo­ment.

At the same time, the Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA) has tight­ened the noose against sep­a­ratists, con­se­quently chok­ing the ter­ror fund­ing from Pak­istan through cal­i­brated op­er­a­tion. Sharma, a sea­soned In­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tive, who served in Kash­mir, wants to fo­cus on de-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion ef­forts in the Val­ley and neu­tralise the ter­ror threat posed by the ISI and other spon­sored ter­ror out­fits that re­main di­a­bolic de­spite con­tin­ued ef­forts to crush them in the last cou­ple of decades. He ad­mits that the task of interlocutor is the big­gest chal­lenge he has ever faced on the na­tional se­cu­rity can­vas and would re­quire di­verse strat­egy, craft and courage.

Sharma is likely to have a ready and

I clearly mean di­a­logue with the peo­ple of Kash­mir. I don’t mean talks with ter­ror­ists, who will try to dis­rupt the whole thing, dis­turb lives. I hope the com­mon peo­ple of Kash­mir will co­op­er­ate and sup­port me in bring­ing nor­malcy. Di­nesh­war Sharma , Cen­tre’s new Kash­mir interlocutor

run­ning sec­re­tar­iat staff by the next week and is hope­ful of vis­it­ing Sri­na­gar in the first half of Novem­ber. Here are ex­cerpts from the ex­clu­sive in­ter­view: Pak­istan in­flu­ence’s and in­ter­fer­ence in the Val­ley at the mo­ment is un­prece­dented. How as an interlocutor will you tackle it? It’s go­ing to be very chal­leng­ing and dif­fi­cult. I hope I’ll be in a po­si­tion to tackle it and I ex­pect that peo­ple of Kash­mir will co­op­er­ate with me in bring­ing nor­malcy in the state. Who are you ex­pect­ing to co­op­er­ate and won’t hes­i­tate to talk? I clearly mean di­a­logue with peo­ple of Kash­mir. I don’t mean talks with ter­ror­ists, who will try to dis­rupt the whole thing (peace talks with stake­hold­ers), dis­turb lives. I hope the com­mon peo­ple of Kash­mir will co­op­er­ate and sup­port me in bring­ing nor­malcy. Will your ex­pe­ri­ence as an in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tive help re­solve g rey as­pects of Kash­mir’s prob­lems? Yes. I know Kash­mir. I have met a lot of peo­ple from Kash­mir. With those ex­pe­ri­ences I can say that ex­pe­ri­ence earned dur­ing my ten­ure in Kash­mir will help me un­der­stand and ad­dress the is­sues more ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently. Are you go­ing to talk to ev­ery­body, in­clud­ing sep­a­ratists? I am ready to talk to all In­dian ci­ti­zens in Kash­mir. Let me see who all come for­ward for di­a­logue. The main thing is that I have to ad­dress the prob­lem, ad­dress the sen­ti­ment of peo­ple there. I will meet them and see what prob­lems they bring for­ward. I’ll try to ad­dress ev­ery­body. What about ter­ror fund­ing cases and charges against sep­a­ratists? That is a dif­fer­ent is­sue. In­ves­ti­ga­tion in cases for a spe­cific vi­o­la­tion of law is a dif­fer­ent is­sue. Talking to peo­ple is a dif­fer­ent is­sue. Will you talk to peo­ple fac­ing charges of fi­nanc­ing ter­ror? For me talking or not talking is not a ques­tion. The Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA) probe against them will go on, and only the NIA can com­ment on that as­pect. I don’t know who all are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated ex­cept that some of them have been ar­rested. How do you pre­pare to counter the chal­lenges of sub­ver­sion, stone pelt­ing and peo­ple’s anger on the streets of val­ley post, and Burhan Wani’s killing? Ad­dress­ing the whole Kash­mir prob­lem is a big chal­lenge. Anger, dis­con­tent­ment and what­ever is be­ing fed from across the bor­der, all put to­gether is a big chal­lenge. I’ll de­cide on the roadmap af­ter meet­ing the peo­ple. I may con­sider some is­sues and over­look the oth­ers. Will you tar­get civil so­ci­ety groups to mo­bilise the masses for peace talks? I’m con­fi­dent of their sup­port. I’m also cer­tain about sup­port from po­lit­i­cal and non-po­lit­i­cal groups. All po­lit­i­cal par­ties are wel­come to the talks. How do you plan to neu­tralise the lo­cal ter­ror re­cruit­ment? If the sit­u­a­tion im­proves and nor­malcy returns to Kash­mir, re­cruit­ment of lo­cals by the ter­ror­ists groups based across the bor­der will stop au­to­mat­i­cally. Lo­cal re­cruit­ment started af­ter Afzal Guru’s hang­ing and peaked af­ter Burhan Wani’s en­counter. Many is­sues will de­cided de­pend­ing on re­sponse from peo­ple. Did you have had a pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sion with J&K Chief Min­is­ter Me­hbooba Mufti? I had called on her be­cause af­ter my ap­point­ment it was her first visit. We have not dis­cussed any broad pa­ram­e­ters for talks. The state gov­ern­ment is a very im­por­tant stake­holder in the whole process, and it’s sup­port will def­i­nitely be re­quired to carry for­ward the peace process. Will we see some changes on the ground in six months? I’m very hope­ful that some pos­i­tive re­sults will be seen in the com­ing months. I want to make the first visit to Kash­mir as quickly as pos­si­ble, though dates have not been fi­nalised yet. I’ll form a sec­re­tar­iat team to as­sist me.

SUVAJIT DEY

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