Interlocutors For Finding Permanent Solution23 October 2010
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: The panel of interlocutors appointed by Centre on Jammu and Kashmir today arrived here on a four-day visit to find a permanent political solution to Kashmir issue and began the process of interaction by calling on opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Muzaffar Hussain Beigh and visiting the Central Jail Srinagar. Eminent journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, who is heading the three member team also comprising academician Radha Kumar and Information Commissioner M M Ansari, said the team had come to find a solution to the political problem of Jammu and Kashmir. 'Our mandate is to have dialogue with all shades of opinion to find comprehensive political settlement of Kashmir dispute. It is complex problem lingering on for 60 years, there has been lot of suffering in this State and we would try to find out a solution through political negotiations with every stake holder for political settlement,' Padgaonkar told reporters. He said the focus of the panel is to address the political dimension of Kashmir dispute. 'There has been enough lecturing and now we want to listen to people with open mind and big heart. We would like to focus on youth. When we met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, they told us to listen to them for future is youth, listen to the women of Kashmir,' Padgaonkar added He said the panel had not come with any readymade formula for resolution of Kashmir issue as it would have cast aspersions on the dialogue process. 'If we pre-determine that we have some magic formula, it would not be good. We want to meet people, listen to them for what they want. There is different perception in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh,' he added. In response to a question, Padgaonkar said the panel was willing to meet anyone who desired to meet them. 'We will go to them (separatists) if they want us to do so. We will visit hospitals, jails, go to people's homes,' he added. He said the visit of the panel was not a one off thing but they will be visiting the State from time to time, at least once in a month, and submit report to Centre about their visits. 'Whatever recommendations or suggestions, we will be giving it every month to Government and we have been given assurance at the highest level of Government and highest level of political leadership that they will address the suggestions and recommendations made by our group,' he said. The interlocutors met Beigh at his residence during which the PDP leader briefed them about the party's stand on Kashmir issue and possible solution. 'I explained to them the self rule formula of our party,' Beigh said after the meeting. The interlocutors also visited the Central Jail, Srinagar where they interacted with some inmates and the jail staff. Earlier, they also paid obeisance at the famous Hazratbal shrine on the banks of Dal lake. They will be staying in the Valley for three days followed by a day-long visit to Jammu. Padgaonkar said they would be meeting students and youths on Monday, the day which has been kept entirely for them. The team members would hear youth and students speak out on what they wanted in their future and the situation in Kashmir. Mr Padgaonkar said this time they would not be giving a lecture to students, but will hear them and ask questions instead. 'We will ask them what actually they want.' Mr Padgaonkar said the team has got several requests from people to meet them. But before starting the process, they were going to sit down, because they have got only four days here. 'We will try to work out how to meet, whom to meet.' He said the focus here is to discuss with a cross-section of opinions on the mandate that has been given to the interlocutors. 'Let’s just try and evolve a consensus on a comprehensive political settlement of the Kashmir issue,' he said, adding anyone can meet the team. In reply to a question, he said they have started a process which will continue to find a political settlement to the Kashmir issue. He said the team, before leaving for here, had met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram. The interlocutors were appointed after an all party delegation had visited the Valley last month following the death of 110 people, allegedly in firing by security forces and police personnel since July this year. Mr Chidambaram, who formed the team on October 13, on Wednesday said at New Delhi that the interlocutors have been tasked with the job of charting a course towards finding a political solution and there were no ‘red lines’ to the panel. 'There are no red lines. Their main brief is to chart a course towards a political solution. All the rest is in aid of a political solution,' he said. Mr Padgaonkar said the Prime Minister wanted the interlocutors to discuss all issues with the people of Kashmir. He said Dr Singh has asked the interlocutors to handle the issue sensitively, considering all the internal and external aspects. 'The Prime Minister stressed the importance of finding a political solution that if this is to be a comprehensive solution, then it must take into account aspirations in Jammu and Kashmir, and that he discussed at great length with us, the progress that had been made in previous peace initiatives,' said Ms Radha Kumar. The panel is to submit its report to the Centre in a year and will be submitting interim reports to the Prime Minister in between. All the separatist leaders and organisations, including both the factions of the Hurriyat Conference and Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), have already rejected the interlocutors. Surprisingly, the mainstream parties, including the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Communist Party of India (M), also expressed their displeasure about composition of the team members. However, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said interlocutors on Kashmir were coming here without any pre condition. 'Let us give it a chance,' he said.