Behind the surprise development of the Kashmir separatist leadership issuing a statement on Friday calling for meaningful and serious dialogue with New Delhi without any conditions, are hectic Track-II negotiations between the separatists and some “go-betweens” in New Delhi. The separatists did not embark on the beaten track of calling for plebiscite and implementation of UN resolutions. It was after the Centre’s intervention that the police allowed Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik to hold talks at Geelani’s residence, according to highly placed sources in the state government and Hurriyat.
Earlier, a team led by Yashwant Sinha had been able to break the ice with the separatist leadership which conveyed to the “right quarters” at New Delhi that the present Hurriyat leadership was ready for dialogue and reconciliation and was also keen that the cycle of violence must end in the Kashmir Valley.
The Centre picked up the threads and allowed civil society in Kashmir, including some mediamen, to attend a conference in Dubai to pave way for the foundation of a meaningful dialogue with the separatist leadership. Conciliation Resources (CR), a British non-profit organisation, organised the Dubai conference for Kashmir, in which participants had the green light from New Delhi to look for ways and means to end the Kashmir conflict. It was held from 31 July to 2 August this year. The participants included convernor of Mirwaiz Hurriyat, Syed Faiz Ahmad Naqashbandi, former Jamaat Amir of PoK, Abdul Rasheed Turabi, PoK Speaker of Legislative Assembly and Muslim League (N) Shah Ghulam Qadir and many others, including many civil society members from the Kashmir Valley. Among the journalists was Iftikhar Geelani, son-in-law of Syed Ali Shah Geelani. Former Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak was also present in the conference.
Kashmir Bar Association president Mian Abdul Qayoom, who is regarded as close to Syed Ali Shah Geelani, was summoned by the NIA for questioning on the basis of some “firm inputs”. But as the contours of the dialogue process became visible, the NIA gave a “clean chit” to Qayoom on his second questioning at New Delhi. Reports said that a Cabinet minister of Mehbooba Mufti, along with his brother, who is an executive member of Mirwaiz Hurriyat, was also helping in the dialogue process. They were working behind the scenes to avoid media glare. Reports said that some moderate Hurriyat leaders, including Abdul Gani Bhat, were not summoned by the NIA though there was “enough evidence” to call them to New Delhi for questioning. Sources told this newspaper that the Centre was not in a hurry to announce any breakthrough, but do more homework before opening any channel of communication, even Track-II negotiations. Sources said that during his four-day visit, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh was briefed by the “quarters concerned” about the progress to look for serious dialogue with the Kashmiri leadership, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to be “irreversible”.