Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Saturday said that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is changing and the leaders of the Hurriyat Conference, a group of separatist parties, were ready for talks with the Centre, ANI reported.

“The ones who turned back Ram Vilas Paswan from their door, they are now ready for talks,” Malik was quoted as saying by the news agency. He was referring to Paswan’s outreach to Hurriyat leaders during an unrest in 2016. Hurriyat hard-liner Syed Ali Shah Geelani had not opened the door of his house to welcome Paswan when he had approached him.

“The stone pelting after namaz is almost over, we do not like it when a youngster dies,” Malik added. “But when a bullet is fired, bullets will be fired in retaliation. That is the reality and this change in stance by them [Hurriyat leaders] is a welcome sign.” The governor was speaking at a Doordarshan event in Srinagar. He made these statements in the presence of Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh. The governor also expressed satisfaction over security management in the past year.

The Jammu and Kashmir Ittehadul Muslimeen, a party which belongs to the Hurriyat faction headed by separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, on Friday expressed its willingness to hold talks with Centre.

In an interview to the Daily Excelsior, Farooq had emphasised that the Centre should take initiative to start the stalled dialogue process in the state and that such sincere efforts would get the desired response from them. “We will never shirk from our responsibility to take the political process forward and if Centre [shows] sincerity, [we] will respond in appropriate manner,” Farooq said.

“New Delhi needs to initiate dialogue with the alienated section of Kashmiri society and simultaneously open channels with Pakistan,” Farooq added. “Similar exercise was done during the Vajpayee era, when despite several obstacles, the process was taken forward at different levels”.

“The new [Pakistan] government led by Imran Khan has on more than one occasion extended the offer for talks and therefore, we must give them a chance keeping aside the bitter experiences of the past,” Farooq said, adding that Hurriyat was ready to act as a bridge between the two countries. “I know even Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his previous tenure also tried to improve ties with Pakistan, but things didn’t move in the right direction”.

In an interview to Scroll.in earlier this year, Farooq had claimed the leadership’s agenda is only the resolution of the Kashmir dispute that is based on self-determination. He had also said that the only way to move forward was for India, Pakistan and the Kashmiris to engage with each other and there was no reason for the Indian government to create a problem about this.

The last time the Hurriyat leaders had held talks with the Centre was in 2004, when the National Democratic Alliance was in power. In 2005, they had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh but there were no formal discussions. The talks have not progressed since then.