India to initiate ‘dialogue’ in Jammu Kashmir
Former head of India’s Intelligence Bureau to represent Indian government, says home minister
By Zahid Rafiq
SRINAGAR, Jammu Kashmir
India has decided to initiate a “sustained dialogue” to “understand the legitimate aspirations of Kashmiri people, the country’s home minister said on Monday.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh announced that Dineshwar Sharma, former head of India's Intelligence Bureau, would initiate the dialogue.
"As a representative of Government of India, Dineshwar Sharma will initiate a sustained interaction and dialogue to understand legitimate aspirations of people in Jammu and Kashmir,” Singh said in a news conference in New Delhi.
However, it is unclear when and whom Sharma would hold talks with.
Mehbooba Mufti, chief minister of Jammu Kashmir, welcomed the move calling the initiative the "necessity of the hour and the only way to go forward".
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
The two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Also in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Kashmiri resistance groups in Jammu Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict since 1989. India maintains more than half a million troops in the disputed region.