Kashmiri youth emotionally surcharged, need parental touch: Sharma

When the former Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Dineshwar Sharma was appointed as the interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir in October 2017, it evoked mixed reaction from the civil society. Over one year after being assigned the sensitive job, Sharma spoke to Harbinger’s Roomi Nazir. Here are the excerpts.

RN: How acquainted do you think you are with Kashmir now that you have visited and interacted with people extensively?

DS: I think I am fairly acquainted by now about Kashmir.

RN: Some sections in Kashmir are criticising you for not meeting the relevant quarters. What do you have to say about that?

DS: I am open to meeting everyone. I have not refused meeting anyone so far.

RN: Another criticism coming forth is that people came to you with only governance issues, diluting the purpose you have been appointed for. Your take?

DS: Pt is not correct. People have come to point out issues related to governance deficiency in the state as also to discuss political nature of the problem.

RN: The Hurriyat has been reluctant to join in the talks with you. Are any efforts being made to reach out to them?

DS: Yes, so far Hurriyat has not joined the talks. I am hopeful that Hurriyat leaders will also join the dialogue shortly.

RN: The people who met you consisted of an overwhelming number of youth. What do you think the youth need as of now?

DS: The youth in valley are emotionally surcharged. They need a parental touch of Mother India. A lot of distrust has developed between Kashmiri youth and the people living outside Kashmir. We need to restore this trust and make them realise that they are as much as our children as youth from rest of India. Employment is another issue that has been a major concern which needs to be addressed.

RN: Are you keeping an eye on the overall situation in Kashmir. The growing militancy, the students protest and the civilian killings?

DS: Yes, I am monitoring the situation on daily basis.

RN: Hugely alienated youth is a challenge. How do you think the youth can be made to come closer to the mainstream if not join it?

DS: I am certain that youth will understand the reasons and appreciate the democratic ethos of the nation. They need to be embraced by the people of India in Kashmir and provide them emotional support.

RN: Do you see any end in sight of the long conflict Kashmir conflict or lets say will there be a respite for the common man?

DS: I am quite hopeful that peace will return to Kashmir soon and it would lay foundation for end of conflict in Kashmir for ever. For this, right thinking people and youth of Kashmir must come forward. The youth need to be guided and convinced that the guns and stones are no solution to any problem. It would only add to the misery of the people, particularly youth. There is no dispute which cannot be resolve through dialogue.

RN: A growing number of well educated youth are joining militant ranks. What do you think is the underlying reason for this phenomenon?

DS: I think they are carried by radical materials being circulated on internet and social media. A lot of disinformation is going on and educated youth are falling prey to this.