Not All Want Azadi: J&K Interlocutors21 January 2011
Srinagar: The Centre’s interlocutors sought to puncture the azadi balloon of separatists on Friday as they said most people they met in the Valley were against a UN resolutions or plebiscite to resolve the Kashmir issue. “A small but vocal section of people harped on UN resolutions, plebiscite and self-determination resulting in independence for the state as it existed before August 1947. However, most people we spoke to did not refer to these options,” chief interlocutor Dileep Padgaonkar said. He said people wanted empowerment to realise in full measure their political, economic, social and cultural aspirations. “They sought the need to devolve power to individuals and communities in all the constituent units of the state to avoid division along ethnical and religious lines,” Padgaonkar said. The interlocutors met scores of people - youths, academics, students, workers, trade union members, employees, entrepreneurs and others. “Some entrepreneurs and traders narrated accounts of harrowing problems due to hartals, shutdown and curfews. Workers lamented layoffs,” hesaid. He said the interlocutors had formally approached separatists, including Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani, to incorporate their views in a report they would submit to the central government at the end of February. The chief interlocutor said they would soon formally approach separatists for talks. “If and when they indicate they are willing to talk, we shall talk at a time and venue they choose,” he said. Moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, however, said he had told Padgaonkar in clear terms that separatists would not get engaged unless there was a change on ground. “When Padgaonkar called me I told him at that very time that Hurriyat Conference has taken a decision not to get involved in a dialogue process unless we see a practical change on the ground,” he said.