Questioning the actions of the Centre’s special representative on Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, former chief minister Omar Abdullah today claimed he was acting as a “super chief minister”. Speaking in the Assembly, the opposition National Conference leader demanded that the government give a clarification on Sharma’s mandate. “What is the mission of the special representative? If he works like a super chief minister, as we hear, by meeting delegations to look into the problems with regard to power, water, non-availability of doctors at hospital, unemployment issues. (But) It is your job,” Omar said during the motion of thanks on governor’s address. “You (Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Sharma) are treading on parallel tracks…. It is your responsibility and not Sharma’s to set right electricity transformers, to improve water supply or giving job orders to unemployed youth. “If he is a special representative, as was mentioned by the governor in his speech, his responsibility should be different,” the former chief minister said.
Apparently referring to separatist leaders, Omar said Sharma should meet “such people, who will facilitate resolution of the big issues. The minor issues could be solved by you as well”. He said the appointment of Sharma by the Centre came several months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his Independence Day speech from Red Fort, said that bullets or abuses will not resolve the Kashmir issue and that it can be addressed by embracing every Kashmiri. “After the prime minister’s speech, we were hopeful of a new beginning and we waited and waited. Then, suddenly, an announcement was made about the nomination of Sharma but soon after confusion took over,” he said.
Omar asked the government to clarify if Sharma was an interlocutor or a special representative or a spokesperson as different voices were coming from the governments at the centre and in the state on the issue. “First we don’t know what is the real status of Sharma. You said he is a special representative, and in speeches and interviews he was given the status of interlocutor, but MoS in PMO (Jitendra Singh) said he is not an interlocutor but a spokesman,” Omar said. The former chief minister asked what was Sharma’s “mandate and what do you want to achieve from his appointment”.
Whether there is a time frame for his mission or it will go on indefinitely. “He has the mandate to talk to who all, MoS PMO says that the talks will be held within the frame work of Constitution while MoS Home says the talks won’t be held with separatists. “You are saying he will talk with everyone who is ready for talks but the home minister says Sharma himself will decide with whom to talk,” he said. Sharma is not here on his own will, the NC leader said and wondered “how he would say he will talk to separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq or Yaseen Malik”.
Omar said there should be clarity on his mandate. The NC working president also asked the Centre to clarify whether Sharma is preparing a report and if it will be submitted to Parliament. Omar cautioned th government that if the “past mistakes” are repeated, “the people won’t have much faith” in the exercise. “Some are our mistakes, some we inherited. If you are not setting right the past mistakes or adding another chapter, then what is the fun,” he said.