The Government of India's special representative to Jammu and Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma has expressed hope over his meeting with the youth of militancy-hit southern Kashmir where he spent two days and interacted with nearly 50 delegates.
"People mostly youth met me in large numbers in South Kashmir. It's a positive thing," Sharma told Democracy Live.
Sharma said that people from different backgrounds, ideologues and professions met him in Pulwama and Anantnag districts on Sunday and Tuesday.
They have appealed him to start the dialogue process with separatist leaders and intervene in the 'resolution of Kashmir issue' so that security situation improves in the Valley. The southern Kashmir was the epicenter of 2016 unrest after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in July 2016.
The students have expressed their concern over the troubled situation in Kashmir and continuous 'imbroglio' in the dialogue process with Separatist leaders "which has affected their education".
"We told him that insecurity is growing among students and working youth due to continuous confrontations between security forces and militants," said a representative of college students, wishing anonymity.
According to him, students also expressed their concern over 'non-serious' approach of central and state governments.
Separatists show resistance to Sharma
Last month, an amalgam of Separatist leaders 'Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL)' rejected Sharma's visit and termed it as a 'tactic' by Government of India.
"The appointment of an interlocutor on Kashmir by Government of India is nothing more than a tactic after its failure of military repression," they said in a statement.
It said GoI was not serious about the dialogue process as it allegedly denied the ground realities in J&K.
"We always support and advocate dialogue process as means of conflict resolution in Jammu and Kashmir. But Government of India should accept Kashmir as an issue and try to solve it," the joint body of separatist leaders said.
A local youth of Anantnag Suhail Ahmad told Democracy News Live that a delegation from his village Bijbehara highlighted the excesses youth face in the hands of police and paramilitary forces.
"The daily harassment of youth should end once for all otherwise more and more youth are going towards militancy," he said.
Recently, the union home ministry asked the J&K government to withdraw cases against first-time stone pelters on Sharma's recommendation.
He had suggested that cases against 4,500 youths involved in stone pelting should be dropped "in an attempt to win hearts". Soon after the development, the J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti ordered review of cases lodged against youth during past three years.
According to reports, Sharma may also reach-out to Separatists leaders on his present visit. However, he refused to comment about his plans vis-à-vis talks with Hurriyat Conference.
"I am trying my best to meet Separatist leaders," local media quoted him as saying.
Reaction of Political Parties
Congress leader and the party president for Jammu and Kashmir, G A Mir told Democracy News Live that some of his party representatives also met Sharma at Anantnag official Bungalow and demanded revival of dialogue process with Pakistan and Separatist leaders in Kashmir.
"If the interlocutor is serious about Kashmir, he should take some concrete steps like revival of dialogue channels and not beat around the bush," he said.
The Congress chief, however, expressed surprised about the 'unclear mandate' of Sharma.
"We are yet to understand his mandate to visit Kashmir. He seems to have come to help present PDP-BJP government so that it feels ease during upcoming elections," Mir alleged.
Day earlier, Sharma also met around 20 delegations at Hari Niwas palace. The delegations included people from border district of Kupwara, surrendered militants under the banner Surrendered Militants' Forum and representatives of ruling BJP and PDP.
Earlier this month, Sharma met many political and social organisations including National Conference working president Omar Abdullah, Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress chief, Ghulam Ahmad Mir.
The 61-year-old former intelligence agency chief was appointed as interlocutor by government of India to start a fresh dialogue process with all stakeholders. This is his second visit to Jammu and Kashmir.