Government open for dialogue with all in Kashmir, but no preconditions: Home Secretary (IANS Interview)

The government is “open for dialogue with everybody” in Jammu and Kashmir but without preconditions, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi said on Wednesday

The government’s strategy was to arrest and neutralise terrorists operating in the state, he said, referring to the spree of top commanders of outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba killed in gunfights over the past few months.

Mehrishi, who is retiring on Thursday, spoke candidly on Pakistan’s involvement in sponsoring terror in Jammu and Kashmir, saying it was a “haven for terrorists and criminal elements”.

Mehrishi told IANS in an interview that the government is making efforts to bring back fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim from Pakistan.

He said over 140 terrorists have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir this year.

“The strategy is to arrest and neutralise the terrorists. The result is that we have killed more than 140 terrorists this year so far,” he said.

Asked about the possibility of talks with the separatists, Mehrishi said that Home Minister Rajnath Singh had made it clear several times that the central government was open for dialogue on Kashmir.

“We are open for dialogue with everybody. Home Minister visited Jammu and Kashmir twice and he talked with whosoever wanted to talk. I don’t think that any talks can take place with preconditions,” he said.

The Home Secretary said India faces problems in Kashmir due to Pakistan, whose agencies use terror outfits to execute their plans.

“Pakistan is a haven for all criminals and terrorists. We have been facing problems in Kashmir due to Pakistan. Pakistani agencies, through terror outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed create trouble in India, especially in Jammu and Kashmir. They encourage one terror outfit at one time and another at a different time. We are trying to overcome the situation,” Mehrishi said.

He said there was “no doubt” that Pakistan was sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir.

“Pakistan is sponsoring terrorism, ensuring infiltration into Kashmir and funding terrorists there.”

“There is an element of radicalisation (in the state) which is getting funds from Pakistan,” Mehrishi said.

Asked about the alienation of Kashmiri youth, Mehrishi said alienation is a “concept of the Delhi media” and the real issue is of terrorism and radicalisation.

“As one Chief Minister had said, 95 per cent people in Jammu and Kashmir want peace and progress and they have the same aspirations as youth in other parts of the country.

“This is only the view of media in Delhi that people in Kashmir feel they are alienated. Radicalisation and terrorism are main issues which we are dealing with,” said Mehrishi, who is a 1978-batch IAS officer of Rajasthan cadre.

He said children of separatists were studying in good schools and they buy properties in posh places. “But they fund others for stone-pelting.”

The Home Secretary said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe into terror funding to Kashmiri separatists has had the “desired impact” and it is also reflected in their curbed activities as also of stone throwers.

“NIA is an independent agency. Government doesn’t interfere in its work. Action will be taken against the guilty as per law. Terror funding in Kashmir is a matter of investigation,” he said.

Answering a query on action about certain NGOs, Mehrishi said they are expected to comply with various legal provisions such as filing annual returns. “We are not looking beyond that. It is just asking people to comply with the law.”

Asked if the government was contemplating any change in the control of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) for operational reasons, he said: “As of now there is no provision to change the status.”

Replying to a question about the need of a border force like ITBP on the Myanmar border, he said the issue is being examined.

“We have free movement regime with Myanmar. But a free movement regime means it is for entitled people, not for all. We need to see whether the person coming into India is an entitled person. So, we need to have border force and we are examining our best how to restructure our system in such a manner that we able to implement that.”

To a query on Dawood Ibrahim, the key accused in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, Mehrishi said he is in Pakistan which is creating hurdles in India getting him back.

“The government is taking all necessary action so that Dawood could be brought back to India,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s attitude was not in conformity with international law.

Answering a query on the use of term “Hindu terror”, he said terror can’t be connected to any religion.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

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