Pune, Jan 30: In an interaction with Kashmiri youths in Pune, New Delhi’s interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma said the Army in the Valley is to “protect the Kashmiris”, and that the increased military deployment has been done to check “infiltration and “ceasefire violation” in the border areas with Pakistan.
“The people of Kashmir need to believe that the Army is there to protect them,” Sharma said in a discussion with Kashmiri youth organised by NGO ‘Sarhad’.
“Unless Kashmiri people believe that the forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir are meant to protect them, the peace process won’t speed up.
“I am also of the opinion but the number of forces have increased in border areas, unfortunately due to infiltration activities and shelling from across the border.”
Reaching out to the Kashmiri youth, Sharma admitted there is “trust deficit” on both sides. His suggestion: “Kashmiri people should go to different parts of India while people from other parts of India should visit Kashmir. That is one of the ways to reduce the trust deficit.”
When one of the Kashmiris at the meeting asked about “thousands of cases” of stone pelting filed against Kashmiri youths, Sharma said he has recommended that the cases be withdrawn. “Political settlement will happen only when peace prevails,” he said.
Calling the youths “the future of Kashmir and India”, the 63-year-old former chief of the Intelligence Bureau said he has made four visits to Jammu and Kashmir and interacted with ordinary Kashmiris to know what’s on their minds.
“In all the interactions, I came to know that what is in a Kashmiri’s mind. A Kashmiri might be giving any statements, but when they discuss amongst themselves, they have realized that Pakistan is not the option for them and I am telling you the right version.”
“A lot of vested interest groups have cropped up who are against peace in the Valley,” Sharma said, adding, “Political future of Kashmir is not just in the hands of Kashmiris, not just in the hands of India, but probably Pakistan also has a role to play here. This is the general understanding, but this can only happen when Pakistan totally stops supporting terrorists’ activities.”
When a Kashmiri student said is not against India, but against the “system” in the Valley, Sharma said, “There is a need for the system to change, but without peace, no one will be able to concentrate on making changes in the present system.” Sharma said that there is lot of corruption and it takes time to eradicate it.