Jammu and Kashmir's Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh has said the government is willing to even hold talks with separatists who have been arrested by the NIA in terror funding cases.
The NIA has arrested 10 people including some close relatives and aides of Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The agency yesterday arrested Syed Shahid Yousuf, son of Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin, in connection with a 2011 terror funding case for allegedly receiving money from his father.
"Actually, we must not link the two things (talks and NIA investigations) because NIA is an autonomous body. It has its mandate and NIA has found certain acts which are not as per the law. So, NIA is taking action," Singh told reporters.
"As far as dialogue is concerned, if it is felt that those people, even if they are behind the bars, they can be consulted, no problem in that, because it is happening. It happens everywhere," he said.
He was responding to question on whether the newly-appointed interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma would hold talks with the separatists who have been arrested by the NIA or are under the investigating agency's scanner.
Singh said talks could be held with the separatists and they should come forward with their grievances with an open mind.
"If there are grievances, then they should be placed on table with open mind and there are no preconditions. Talks should be held and what would happen would be decided later," he added.
"As our Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) has said that all stakeholders can come. In our (PDP-BJP) Agenda of Alliance, on whose basis our government was formed, we have made it clear that the Jammu and Kashmir government will try to create an environment in which talks can happen because talks are the only solution," he said.
The deputy chief minister termed the announcement of talks as a step in the right direction.
"Almost all the people in Kashmir valley, barring a few, have welcomed this initiative of the Central government because this is the time when this process should have been started and it has started now," said Singh, a senior BJP leader.
"The person who has been appointed (as an interlocutor) now is widely acclaimed. I am told he was active in North East also, where there was trouble.
"So, I shall suggest that it is a right opportunity for everybody because last time when Parliamentary delegation came over here, some of the people, especially the Hurriyat people, refused to meet them, he said.
Singh noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in his Independence Day address that the issue of Kashmir can be addressed not by bullets but by embracing the people of the state.
"So for embracing the people, this is the right direction and we should come forward and all those people who want peace, who want development, who are for the welfare of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, they should come forward," he said.
Singh was asked to comment on National Conference president Farooq Abdullah's statement that talks were held in the past as well but nothing was achieved.
To this, the deputy chief minister said there is a "decisive leadership" at the Centre now.
"The common man believes that a solution can come out, given the mandate and personality which Narendra Modi has. And our Home Minister has said that we will find a solution," he said.
Rajnath Singh has said that Dineshwar Sharma, a former director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), would decide whom he engaged with in the state.
"It depends upon him whom he talks to or engages with?" Singh said on Tuesday when asked if Sharma would hold talks with the Hurriyat Conference, as suggested by some state politicians.
Sharma was appointed by the central government as its representative on Monday to initiate a dialogue with all stakeholders in Jammu and Kashmir.
(With PTI inputs)