The Centre’s interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, Dineshwar Sharma, today called for a “mechanism” to address the issues faced by Kashmiri youth residing in others parts of the country. Sharma was interacting with over 100 Kashmiri students and youth who are in the city to pursue education. The interaction was organised by Sarhad, a city-based NGO. Answering a student’s query about youth from Kashmir facing an indifferent approach from the local populace as well as authorities, Sharma said it was because of mistrust between people from Kashmir and the rest of the country. “Today I met the Pune Police Commissioner (Rashmi Shukla) and discussed this issue. I told her that all these youth have come out of their state and they should not feel unsafe. I have suggested to her that police should have interactive sessions with the youth from Jammu and Kashmir so that trust and confidence can be built,” Sharma said. He added that he had suggested the creation of a mechanism by which a youth from Kashmir, if faced with any issue, could call the authorities. Sharma told the gathering that the Pune Police Commissioner had promised that police would conduct such interactive sessions. “We are trying to set up such a mechanism all over the country where Kashmiri students are present so that they don’t feel alienated. The trust has to come,” the former IB director said. He said these issues cropped up because of mistrust, which he claimed had increased due to the media’s negative reporting and some controversial statements made by politicians. He added that the mistrust had to go and it would go slowly. He also appealed to youth from Jammu and Kashmir to take their local friends to the Valley and show them the real Kashmir. “Barring sporadic incidents, tourists are never targeted in the Valley,” he said.
The former IB chief shared his email address with the students and asked them to contact him via email in case they faced problems here. Asked about harassment of Kashmiri youth at the hands of security forces in the Valley, he said that he had been telling the police, the CRPF and the Army to be firm but equally “polite”. “Checking has to be there as long as security is a concern, but there has to be proper behaviour. We all have to work together to make sure that trust is restored,” he added. He called the youth of the state the real future and added that he had made youth and students his focus when he was appointed as the Centre’s interlocutor. “In the last 20 years, Kashmir has become a more complex issue. All put together, the situation in Kashmir has become complex, but you are the hope and you have to decide how to take the state forward,” he said. Talking about stone pelting cases against the youth in the Valley, he said the cases were withdrawn after he recommended the government to withdraw them. He added that a political solution could not happen unless there was peace.