With the channels of a dialogue or Track-II diplomacy being suspended by the BJP government, Kashmiri separatists with a moderate political outlook have moved toward the hardline secessionists, said the former interlocutors who have established contact with Kashmiri separatists at various stages.
Radha Kumar, who engaged with the separatists in the aftermath of the 2010 summer agitation, told The Hindu that the dialogue process should be resumed to maintain the “possibility of reaching a peace agreement.”
“When you don’t have a dialogue there is no possibility of peace making and that drives people to hardline positions,” said Ms. Kumar.
On Saturday, Kashmiri separatists put up a show of unity at an Iftaar party hosted by Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). Leaders from both hardline and moderate camps were spotted shaking hands and breaking bread together.
In May, they decided to unite to put up a “peaceful” fight against the Centre’s attempts to house the ex-servicemen and build separate townships for displaced Kashmiri Pandits in the valley.
Speaking to The Hindu, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the chairman of moderate Hurriyat faction, said a sense of unity prevailed as separatists from across the board began to feel that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “buried Vajpayee’s vision” for Kashmir.
“The BJP government is unwilling to understand Kashmir through a political angle,” said Mr. Farooq.
“It has decided to deal with Kashmir only militarily. That’s why the BJP’s MLAs are talking about housing ex-servicemen and soldiers here. They have taken a provocative approach and we felt that we must stand together and protest such advances.”
Defying his hard-line counterparts, Mr. Farooq was among the first Kashmiri separatists to meet Prime Minster Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2004.
At that time, Indo-Pak relations were improving with General Parvez Musharraf proposing a “Four Point Formula” as a possible solution for the Kashmir dispute.
The formula advocated autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir with a joint military and economic control of India and Pakistan.
According to Farooq Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, the two countries were just a “signature away” from the resolution.
Though the subsequent Congress regime in the Centre followed Vajpayee’s Kashmir policy to some degree, the ouster of General Pervez Musharraf following his troubles with Pakistani judiciary once again left the Kashmir issue on the backburner.
For Wajahat Habibullah, a former civil servant who has negotiated with Kashmiri separatists ever since the famous Hazratbal siege of the early 1990s, the hardliners “still command a lot of support” on the ground.
“We must not forget that people usually comply with Geelani’s strike calls,” he said. “Which means the government should engage separatists in order to address the rising violence and extremism [in the State].”