N N Vohra, the former Union home secretary, is the Centre's new interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir.
Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani announced his appointment in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Vohra will replace K C Pant, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, who held talks with various political outfits in Jammu and Kashmir when Dr Farooq Abdullah was the state chief minister. Though Pant wanted his assignment to continue, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed did not think he was appropriate to conduct discussions with various parties involved in the Jammu and Kashmir tangle.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced in his Independence Day speech last August that the Government of India would hold talks with members of the new state assembly after the election.
During his last visit to New Delhi, Sayeed asked Vajpayee to expedite the process of appointing a new interlocutor.
A fine administrator, Vohra dealt with the Kashmir problem in his capacity as home secretary. He will call on Advani later to get a sense of his brief.
All Parties Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq told rediff.com it was too early to react to the development. The 23-party separatist conglomerate will be one of those involved in Vohra's future discussions.
"Let us see what instructions the Government of India gives Vohra," the Mirwaiz said. "We had nothing against Pant personally but his brief was limited."