PM wants political solution: Kashmir interlocutors

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NEW DELHI - The three new interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir said after meeting Manmohan Singh Thursday that the prime minister wanted them to look for a political solution to the dragging crisis in the state and especially speak to “youths and women”.

Academic Radha Kumar, one of the three apolitical faces who have been chosen to hold talks with “all shades of opnion” in the troubled state, said Manmohan Singh told them to focus on a comprehensive political solution.

“It must take into account the aspirations of people. Dialogue should take into account previous dialogues as well those involving dissident groups, including Pakistan-related processes that were part of it,” Radha Kumar told reporters quoting the prime minister’s instructions.

Journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, who is also an interlocutor, said: “We are hugely impressed with the depth and sincerity of the prime minister to ensure that a solution is found.

“We are planning to visit Jammu and Kashmir once every month. We will be submitting interim reports after every visit with suggestions and recommendations.”

Former information commissioner M.M. Ansari is the other interlocutor. Although the team has a one-year mandate, it will submit periodical reports after monthly visits to the state, said Padgaonkar.

“The prime minister reiterated support at the highest level. He said talk particularly with youth and women,” he said.

Padgaonkar said talks to resolve the Kashmir crisis “may be difficult”. “But we will approach the talks with an open mind and a big heart.”

He said the team will go on its first visit to Kashmir soon. “We will talk to people from all shades of opinion.”

Underlining that the “talks would be comprehensive”, he said the interlocutors will be sensitive to the divergent views of representatives of the different regions of the state - Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh.

The three interlocutors were appointed Oct 13. The team had met Home Minister P. Chidambaram Tuesday.

Thousands of people have died since insurgency began in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989. While things were beginning to look up last year, the state was plunged into a fresh crisis after stone-pelting protesters started clashing with the security forces. At least 110 people have been killed in the ongoing unrest since June 11.

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