Government Rules Out Talks With Separatists in Jammu and Kashmir

The govt told the SC that a dialogue to restore normalcy was possible only with legally recognised stakeholders.

The government on Friday ruled out talks with separatist elements or those raising the issues of "accession or Azadi" in the Kashmir Valley, telling the Supreme Court that a dialogue to restore normalcy was possible only with legally recognised stakeholders.

The apex court was in agreement with the view of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi and said that "all those whom the law does not prevent, can meet and come out with suggestions”.

The court's observation came after Rohatgi said:

The government would come to the negotiation table only if the legally recognised stakeholders participate in the dialogue and not with the separatist elements who rake up the issue of accession or Azadi in Kashmir.

The top court asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association to come up with suggestions to resolve the crisis, including the stone-pelting incidents and the violent street protests in the Valley.

It told the bar association, which has sought a ban on the use of pellet guns to quell the agitating mob, to take "first steps" in bringing all stakeholders to the table for workable suggestions to defuse the crisis.

The apex court also took exception to the stand of the bar association that it cannot vouch for all stakeholders and could only speak on behalf of lawyers by telling it that “you cannot take such a stand when you have come here”.

A bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar made it clear that the next step would come only if the bar association comes out with workable suggestions and posted the matter for further hearing on May 9.

While the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and S K Kaul, was persuading the lawyers’ body to ensure that there should not be any street agitation and stone-pelting, the Attorney General objected to the stand taken by the bar for involving the separatist elements in the talks.

Rohatgi read out the part of the affidavit in which the bar association has raised questions about accession of Kashmir and giving a political colour to the matter by mentioning names of some separatist leaders who were under house arrest.

(This copy has been edited for length.)