But first, shun the gun
India is a democracy. So there is little reason to for its government not to have consultations and discussions with a wide variety of public opinion; even with secessionists, supporters of accession to Pakistan, religious fundamentalists of various stripes, communists or any other group of people. Indeed, these groups do not even have to swear to abide by the Indian constitution. But there is one important caveat: they must not resort to violence. There is little reason for a democratic government to negotiate with a group, or for that matter another country, simply because it threatens and conducts violence. If democracy imposes a duty on the government to engage all shades of opinion, it also imposes no less a duty to use legitimate force against those who resort to violence in the pursuit of their ends.
The very act of negotiating with a terrorist group or its proxy is already a concession that it does not deserve. Conducting negotiations over political demands of those who threaten violence is not only wrong but is also counterproductive. It reduces the incentive for other groups to pursue their political ends peacefully.
The most important precondition for negotiating with the Hurriyat should not be so much as insisting that talks be conducted under the aegis of the Indian constitution, but that they be conducted only after the Hurriyat unequivocally and permanently renounces terrorism, jihad, armed struggle or whatever else it may style the campaign of violence carried out by its agents.
Again, in a democratic setup, legitimacy comes from polls, not out of a loudspeaker or the barrel of a gun (nor, unfortunately, out of a blog). Whoever desires to represent the people of Jammu & Kashmir must first prove that the people have chosen them as their representatives. Legitimate negotiations — if not in law then in the court of public opinion — can only be conducted with elected representatives. The Hurriyat must prove itself at the polls before it can claim to be a legitimate negotiating partner.
Finally, as this editorial argues, there is an urgent need for India to make talks with the Kashmiri people more broad-based. The Hurriyat is by no means the sole representative of Kashmiri opinion, although it is the loudest. With its terrorist friends, it has managed to intimidate and silence other voices. There are several shades of opinion in Jammu & Kashmir, the Hurriyat is but one.