In recent months, the Centre’s hard stance on all things Kashmir is gradually softening. That dialogue is necessary to help uplift the state appears to be the main consensus.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement that the Centre is willing to hold talks with all stakeholders, and BJP leader Ram Madhav saying talks can be held with anyone are a welcome change from earlier hardline tactics. In his last “Mann ki Baat” speech on Sunday, Modi also praised a poor Kashmiri youth, Bilal Dar, for his attempt to clean up a lake, which became front page news in Kashmir and heavily discussed on social media.
Hoping that these statements are not just hot air, the Yashwant Sinha-led Concerned Citizens Group has issued a short statement on how important it is to capitalise on this change of heart.
Here’s what the statement says:
“The Concerned Citizens Group from across India, has read with much hope the statements of the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the BJP leadership on a positive change in policy towards Kashmir’s citizens, as have many Kashmiris.
While looking forward to a concrete follow up, we would like to suggest that in order to operationalise the well-intentioned statements that have so eloquently been made, it is now necessary for the government to clearly identify the stakeholders, announce the name of an authorised interlocutor, set a timeframe for the beginning and conduct of the dialogue process and start it as soon as possible.
Despite deep skepticism that has taken hold of their minds, the encouraging statements by the PM, HM and others hold promise for the Kashmiris. The present opportunity should not be wasted. And, therefore, it is our fervent appeal to the government to quickly act definitively on the sentiments expressed in a time-bound manner.”
Yashwant Sinha, former foreign and finance minister
Wajahat Habibullah, former chairman Minorities Commission
Manish Tewari, former minister of I&B
Nirupama Rao, former foreign secretary
Kapil Kak, air-vice marshal (retired),
V. Balachandran, former special secretary, Govt of India
Badri Raina, writer & academic
Ramachandra Guha, historian & political commentator
Zoya Hasan, professor of political science
Bharat Bhushan, editor, Catch News
John Dayal, social sctivist
Sushobha Barve, executive secretary, Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation