MHA Clean Chit To J&K Interlocutor On Attending Ghulam Nabi Fai's Summit30 July 2011
Times of India
New Delhi: One of the Central interlocutors for Jammu & Kashmir, MM Ansari's recent barb against fellow member Dileep Padgaonkar over the latter's participation in a seminar on invitation of US-based Kashmiri separatist Ghulam Nabi Fai has not gone down well with the home ministry. Although the ministry has not formally expressed its 'displeasure' to Ansari, officials said they would remind him their earlier request to them (interlocutors) about not to engage in any 'public spat' keeping in mind the seriousness of the issue they had been working on. Reacting to Padgaonkar's decision to attend one of the seminars, organized by Fai at the ISI's behest in the US, Ansari, an ex-information commissioner in the Central Information Commission, had reportedly said, 'We need persons of impeccable integrity and character to resolve an issue as contentious as Kashmir'. Terming his fellow member's decision to be a guest of Fai's Kashmir American Council (KAC) as 'very strange and unfortunate', Ansari had even questioned whether the government was aware of Padgaonkar (a senior journalist) attending the seminar before it appointed him (as one of the interlocutors). Giving 'clean chit' to Padgaonkar, a senior official, however, said the ministry had minutely examined the content of the recorded speech delivered by him at the seminar, and found nothing that could even remotely point at something that can be interpreted as 'anti-India'. 'Padgaonkar spoke there as a journalist, and there is nothing wrong in it,' he said. Padgaonkar in his defence had told ToI last week that he did attend the seminar in 2005, but he did not have the faintest of idea about Fai's affiliations with the ISI. 'Had I known who Fai 'actually' is, I would not have attended the seminar,' he had said. The episode came to light when the FBI arrested Fai in Virginia on July 19. Fai was held on charges of lobbying for Pakistan among US legislators at the ISI's behest. The KAC had been regularly organizing seminars-conferences on Kashmir in the US, which were attended by a number of Indian journalists and civil rights activists over the years. The team of three interlocutors, including academician Radha Kumar, is working on its 'final' report - comprising recommendations to resolve the J&K problem - that is to be submitted in late September. So far, the team has submitted six interim reports to the home ministry. 'Since they have indicated that the final report would be submitted in end-September, there is no question of extending their one-year term beyond October 12,' said an official. The Centre had on October 13, 2010, appointed the group of three interlocutors, entrusting them 'with the responsibility of undertaking a sustained dialogue with the people of J&K to understand their problems and chart a course for the future'.