'Open to talk to anyone': Centre's interlocutor begins Kashmir visit Monday
New Delhi:The central government's newly-appointed interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma will begin a six-day visit to the Kashmir Valley from Monday to open talks with "all stakeholders" and understand the "pain and suffering" of a common Kashmiri.
This will be Sharma's first trip to the valley after he was appointed the government's Kashmir pointsman on October 23 to begin "sustained dialogue process... (and) understand legitimate aspirations of the people, especially youth" in the troubled state.
"I am going there without any preconceived notions. Everyone is welcome to meet me. I don't want any new effort (to bring peace in Jammu and Kashmir) to be seen from the prism of the past," Sharma told IANS here.
He said he would return to Delhi on November 11, hoping that his efforts will result in "peace and prosperity" in Jammu and Kashmir.
"I am hopeful I will be able to contribute towards peace and prosperity in Kashmir," he said.
Asked whom did he plan to meet during his visit, Sharma said: "I want to understand the pain and suffering of Kashmiris. I know it is not a problem that can be solved overnight or in just one visit. It is a step one towards bringing peace in the state.
"I am open to talking to everybody. Anybody who believes in peace and wants to come and give me some ideas how to go about, I am willing to listen."
Sharma is expected to meet political leaders, traders and students. However, separatist leaders, including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yaseen Malik have declined to have parleys with the interlocutor.
He said it was their choice whether they want to meet him or not. "I can only suggest everyone to contribute to peace building in the state. People have suffered a lot there."
Sharma is an old Kashmir hand who served as Assistant Director Intelligence Bureau in the state from 1992-94 - the time when militancy was at its peak in Jammu and Kashmir.
He headed the IB for two years from December 2015 to December 2016. It was also the time when widespread violent street protests erupted in the Kashmir Valley following the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.