MHA seeks feedback from ex-Interlocutors

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Aug 27: Two of the three former Interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir, who had submitted their report to the Union Home Ministry on October 12 last year, would be starting a fresh exercise to elicit opinion of political leadership and civil society in the State during their nearly week long tour to both parts of region from August 29.
Official sources told the Excelsior that new Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde had given nod to former Interlocutors Dileep Padgaonkar, a veteran journalist and Prof Radha Kumar, an academician to hold meetings in Jammu and Srinagar and elicit public opinion on the report.
The Interlocutors have planned two meetings in Jammu and Srinagar, the twin capital cities of the State on August 30 and September 2 on behalf of Delhi Policy Group, New Delhi.
The former Interlocutors would be in J&K for six days-three days each in Kashmir and Jammu region. They have not fixed any meeting in Ladakh during their upcoming tour.
As far as third former Interlocutor, MM Ansari was concerned, he wouldn’t be accompanying Mr Padgaonkar and Ms Kumar. The Union Government had recently appointed Mr Ansari, a former Information Commissioner, as a Member of University Grants Commission (UGC).
Sources said the former Interlocutors have invited members of civil society, leaders of all political parties, industry, business class etc to the meetings. Worthwhile to mention here that the separatists had refused to meet the trio during their one year long term as Interlocutors from October 12, 2010.
This time it couldn’t be ascertained immediately as to whether the Group had extended an invitation to separatists or not.
The Interlocutors would be meeting the civil society and leaders of political parties etc on August 30 at Sher-i-Kashmir International Centre for Convention (SKICC) in Srinagar. They would hold a similar meeting in Jammu on September 2 at Hotel Fortune Inn Riviera.
The two former Interlocutors would submit the mood of the people obtained from ‘Feedback Meetings on Interlocutors’ Report’ to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
Sources said Mr Padgaonkar and Ms Kumar could hold another round of meeting in the State, if required after their six days visit, including Ladakh region before submitting their report to the MHA on feedback obtained from civil society, political parties, industry, business class, advocate and common man on their report, which they had submitted to former Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on October 12, 2011 exactly an year of their one year term during which they had toured all three regions of the State including Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions.
The MHA had made the report public on May 24, 2012.
Earlier in the day today, Mr Padgaonkar and Ms Kumar met Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in New Delhi and briefed him about their year-long exercise of interaction with a cross section of people in Jammu and Kashmir, which had concluded on October 12 last year but since then no follow up action has been taken on recommendations except for making them public.
Mr Padgaonkar, who served as chairman of the group, informed the Home Minister about their plans to conduct workshops in Srinagar and Jammu later this week.
This was the first time the former Interlocutors met Mr Shinde after he took over charge of the Home Ministry earlier this month.
The former Interlocutors told Mr Shinde that they were going to conduct workshops in Srinagar and Jammu later this week to receive a structured feed back on the recommendations of the report.
Mr Shinde reportedly asked them to communicate their feedback to him at the earliest opportunity.
Mr Padgaonkar and Mr Kumar were told by the Minister that he would go into the details of the report once the current session of Parliament was over.
Mr Shinde said he would meet the two and again discuss the structured feedback with them.
The report of the Interlocutors had recommended setting up of a Constitutional Committee to review all Acts and Articles of the Constitution extended to Jammu and Kashmir and upholding of Article 370.
The 176-page report had ruled out return of the State to pre-1953 position or grant of autonomy and self-rule, the major demands of ruling National Conference and main opposition the PDP respectively.
Under the political component, the report dealt with Centre-State relations and internal devolution of powers and had suggested a road map listing Confidence-Building Measures that includes review of Disturbed Areas Act and re-appraisal of application of controversial AFSPA.
Many State and national political parties dismissed the report while separatist groups from the Valley had never joined the discussions with the Interlocutors.


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