Jammu and Kashmir

Kashmir: Pro-dialogue separatist leader Abdul Ghani Bhat confirms meeting Dineshwar Sharma last week

The Muslim Conference leader met the Centre’s interlocutor despite a Hurriyat decision to not engage with him.

Kashmiri separatist leader Abdul Ghani Bhat has confirmed that he met Dineshwar Sharma, the Centre’s interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, in Srinagar last week, ignoring the Hurriyat’s decision against engaging with him, The Indian Express reported on Thursday.

“I don’t want to die tomorrow in an atomic holocaust,” Bhat said, supporting dialogue as the way ahead. “I don’t want to burn alive with my kith and kin and the entire region. Who wants it? Kindly bring him [Sharma] by the ear to me. I want to talk to him and understand his politics.”

Bhat, a Muslim Conference leader, met Sharma on November 27. He is a former chairman of the separatist All Parties Hurriyat Conference and is an executive committee member.

Dialogue is “the only effective and civilised way to address issues bedeviling relations between nations or peoples”, he said. He has supported dialogue in the past as well.

In October, the Centre announced that Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau director, would initiate dialogue with Jammu and Kashmir’s elected representatives, political parties and residents. Sharma visited the state first in early November and again last week.

Separatist leaders had boycotted talks with Sharma, calling it “an exercise in futility”. A statement before his first visit to the Kashmir Valley said: “For any Kashmiri to be part of this futile exercise will only undermine our internationally acknowledged legitimate and just struggle, nourished by the blood of our martyrs and great sacrifices and hardships rendered daily by the masses.”

Bhat said there was “bound to be a difference of opinion” in any group of individuals “with heads on their shoulders but it should not be misconstrued as confrontation, much less as a different path”. “We follow the same path, occasionally collectively, occasionally individually,” he said.

He did not give details of his meeting with the interlocutor, but said he would release a formal statement “in due course”.

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