Rajnath Singh call for talks


Union home minister Rajnath Singh is in Srinagar on the first leg of his four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir. Though the purpose of his visit is stated to take stock of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rs.80000crore economic package to the state, he, however, expressed his willingness to talk politics as well. Before leaving for Srinagar, home minister, in New Delhi said that he was willing to meet anyone “who can help find solutions to the problems facing Jammu and Kashmir:” Rajnath Singh’s visit comes at a time when the valley is reeling under severe unrest. As the home minister landed in Srinagar, a number of villages in north and south of Kashmir were under siege of security forces to flush out militants. Multiple gunfights between security forces and militants (which left one militant and one policeman dead) and street protests in parts of the valley took place. Separatist leadership has called for a general shutdown on Sunday to protest against the presence of Rajnath Singh in Kashmir. It is an admitted fact that Rajnath Singh, after A B Vajpayee, is the most tolerant face in the entire Sangh family. He believes in resolving problems through dialogue. His call for meeting anyone and everyone is quite appreciable. But the home minister has put a rider on the meetings by saying who would help restore peace in the valley. Peace, in fact, is the most desirable thing presently required in Jamme and Kashmir. So the home minister’s concern is understandable. The million dollar question is how to restore peace? It cannot be restored in isolation. Peace in Kashmir is deeply connected with its history. It cannot be achieved by disconnecting history from it. Rajnath Singh knows it more than anyone else. Making a general call for meeting makes no sense. The home minister needs to specify the people, call them for resolving the issues that are disturbing peace in Kashmir. People who mean in Kashmir politics and who are capable of any help are quite identified. Home minister needs to address them directly. Most of them are in jails. Others remain detained in their houses. There are reports that the state government has arranged meetings of the home minister with several peoples’ delegations and “civil society members”. These people are mostly those sponsored by the ruling parties. It is anybody’s guess that they would little help in what Rajnath Singh wants. If Rajnath Singh is genuinely concerned about peace in the valley, he should follow the foot-steps of his guru A B Vajpayee. It goes without saying that Vajpayee was a man, who could go against the wind and take initiatives on his own. He, as prime minister, visited Lahor, in 1999, against the general belief in and outside the government. He demonstrated his willingness to peace a reality in the region by inviting Pakistan President General ParvezMusharaf for summit in Agra in 2000 despite being the architect of war in Kargil. Rajnath Singh has not to go too far. He is the home minister of India. Maintenance of internal peace is his responsibility. He can take decisions on his own to see peace in the conflict zones. It is quite in the fitness of things to say that the home minister is asking meetings with “anyone” when the entire separatist leadership is facing a ruthless campaign from the NIA. Many of the Hurriyat leaders and activists are behind the bars. NIA has been conducting raids on “suspected” people day in and day night. There is, no doubt, an atmosphere of dread among separatist sections. Calling for dialogue in these fearful conditions can never be possible. There is urgent need of withdrawing NIA from Kashmir scene, let free all the separatist leaders and activists and make a formal call for dialogue with them. That only could be the possible way forward.