No single group can speak for Kashmir’s people: Interlocutors

Saturday, February 26, 2011

SRINAGAR - Given the diverse political aspirations of Jammu and Kashmir’s three regions, no single political formation - mainstream or separatist - could claim the exclusive prerogative to speak for the people of Kashmir Valley, let alone for the state’s people as a whole, the three central government-appointed interlocutors said Saturday.

Addressing a media conference here at the end of their latest visit to the Valley, the interlocutors - Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari - said: “The political settlement has to be found only through a sustained and inclusive process of dialogue with all the stake holders, including the separatist outfits and the civil society organisations”.

Padgaonkar said any outbreak of violence could thwart the process.

“The stake holders, therefore, need to move away from rigid positions and act in concert to focus tightly on four issues of critical importance for the future.

“These include the need to preserve the unity and integrity of the state, assert the states special status in the Indian Union, seek the most practical and effective way to respond to the diverse political, economic, social and cultural urges of the people, the mainstream political parties in every region would be required to evolve a consensus on a political settlement and then seek a similar consensus with other regions of the state”.

Padgaonkar said all the delegations the interlocutors met insisted that the situation on the ground had to change to enable the dialogue process to progress.

“For this, the delegations demanded an end to the intimidation and harassment by police and the security forces including the indiscriminate use of the Public Safety Act (PSA)”.

The exchange of views with the various delegations the interlocutors had met during the visit gave them sharp insight into the complexities involved in crafting a permanent, political settlement in Jammu and Kashmir, he said.

“We will take these insights, demands and suggestions into account when we present the government our initial document on the contours of the political settlement,” Padgaonkar said.

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