New Delhi, Sept 19: With his party's majority in the Lok Sabha, popularity and backing of the RSS, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only one capable of a "bold decision" on Jammu and Kashmir, separatist leader Shabbir Shah had told the state's former chief secretary in 2016. Moosa Raza, who was Jammu and Kashmir chief secretary from 1988-90, recalls the conversation with Shah in his new book "Kashmir: Land of Regrets".
It was November 9, 2016, a day after Modi announced the demonetisation of high value currency notes, Raza says in the book, reproducing a snippet from a report he prepared following his six-day visit to Srinagar in November 2016 to assess the ground level situation in the Valley.
"He enjoys a majority in the Lok Sabha, is highly popular in India and has the full backing of the RSS. If anyone is capable of taking a bold decision to resolve J&K, it is Modi.
"If he does that, he will be remembered for posterity with Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru," the report had said, quoting Shah.
The separatist leader was bowled over by the prime minister's decision, Raza said.
"I had met Shah just a day after the demonetisation was announced. The man was all praise for PM Modi's decision on demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes," the 82-year-old author and former bureaucrat said ahead of the recent launch of his book.
"He said, 'The decision had not only broken the back of black money but even jeopardised the prospects of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat. A leader who can brave all public opinion and even take risk with its own supporters is rarely born'," Raza quoted Shah as saying.
Raza's visit to the Valley in November 2016 was in the backdrop of the widespread unrest after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by security forces in July 2016.
He visited various separatist leaders, politicians and civil servants - former and working. The sentiment that Modi might be the one to resolve the Jammu and Kashmir issue was shared by many civil society members, he said.
In the report, Raza recommended that the prime minister announce the opening of a dialogue with "separatists, leaders of all hues involving political representatives, ministers of the state government, and opposition parties".
"The dates could be announced later. Just an announcement of this nature would go a long way in cooling down the heightened emotions of the agitators," it read. But that was then. Much water has flown under the bridge since the 2016 agitation. There is no option of a dialogue with the Centre revoking Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5, Raza said.
He added that the government doesn't have anyone left to talk to now, and the Valley's three mainstream political players - Congress, People's Democratic Party and the National Conference - have "lost face" as no one in Kashmir will be willing to believe them in the near future.
Many political leaders, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been under detention since August 5.
It was essential for mainstream political leaders to recover lost ground, Raza said, adding that he feared the vacuum created would be filled by terrorists or separatists.
"They will go to town telling local Kashmiris 'Yeh Abdullah, Mufti … sab dhokebhaz hai, sirf hum tumhare saath hai' (The Abdullahs, Muftis and others are cheats, we are the only ones supporting you). Pakistan on their part will be more than happy to add fuel to the fire," he added.