Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday announced that the Centre had decided to start a sustained dialogue on Jammu & Kashmir. Former Intelligence Bureau Director Dineshwar Sharma will initiate dialogue with elected representatives of the state, political parties, different organisations and residents of the state, Singh said.

Sharma is an officer from the 1979 Indian Police Service batch. The former director will attempt to understand the “legitimate aspirations of people in Jammu and Kashmir”.

After his appointment, he told ANI his priority was to restore peace in the state and find a permanent solution to the crisis. Sharma’s rank will be equivalent to that of a cabinet secretary.

He has earlier also been appointed interlocutor for talks with rebel groups in North East India, including those based in Manipur and Assam.

Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, on Twitter, welcomed the Centre’s initiative.