Ready to meet Hurriyat: Dileep

NEW DELHI, May 24: The interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir will be ready to engage with separatists groups including Hurriyat Conference in the feedback process on their report submitted to the government.
“We will be more than willing to approach the separatist groups to engage with them let them give us their feedback on specifics on the report of what it said.
“Let them also know that the focus of the report is on the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir….” Dileep Padgaonkar, one of the three interlocutors, said after government made public their report.
He said the government has encouraged them to get the feedback. “It is only after getting the feedback including from the political parties and once a consensus develops, the government can take a view on it,” he added.
Asked whether their report reflected the opinion of separatist groups like Hurriyat Conference, he said the interlocutors team has met more than 700 delegations and represents all shades of opinion.
“It is true that the separatists did not meet us. We made every effort to meet them but they did not meet us. However, their views are well known and taken into account in the writing of the report,” he said.
Besides Padgaonkar, Jamia Milia University professor Radha Kumar and former Information Commissioner M M Ansari were the other two members of the group which submitted its 176-page report to Government last year.
Padgaonkar said that they would be holding series of debates and discussion with political parties to get a “structured feedback for the report” and would like an informed public debate on it.
Asked about their recommendations about making the Line of Control as irrelevant, he said “we want the movement of goods and people across the LoC to become as hassle free as possible so that the LoC turns into a Line of Concord and Cooperation.”
Asked whether the interlocutors were pressing for a pre-1953 status by recommending setting up of Constitution Commission, which will review all the Acts and Articles introduced after 1952, he said that there had been differing views on this since the time of former state Chief Minister Shiekh Mohammed Abdullah.
Sticking to the stand taken by them in the report of not pleading for turning the clock back, he said there was a need to look at the future and “the future should take into account the changed security and economic situation.”
“We have said most of these Articles and Acts are fairly innocuous. There are barely five or six issues for which we need to discuss.
“They concern appointment of Governor, the powers of the Governor, the nomenclature issues, etc. Etc. And in each case we have given our own options of what we think ought to be done.”
Padgaongar said this will be obviously taken into consideration by the Constitution Commission but the crux of the report is that the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be empowered in order for them to exercise their civic and political rights.
While this empowerment should be acceptable to all the three regions of the state, it should also be in favour of those communities which have been uprooted from their homes because of force, wars and endemic violence.
He said the report has a three-fold approach which included “one, to ensure finesse between the State and the Union, the second on devolution of political, administrative and other powers within the state and the regions and the third is on cross LoC dealings.”
Asked whether the Government has deleted any portion of the report, he said “the report has been taken absolutely in totality. The way we have submitted it, it has been put up on the website.”
Asked whether there was any time frame to complete the feedback process, Padgaonkar said “we are very clear, just as we completed our work in a year’s time, we will like to complete this exercise as soon as possible.
“Say maximum of four months and then we will report back to the government on the feedback that we get. The fact of the matter is that any delay as seen in Jammu and Kashmir buying tactics and so on. We have now laid to rest this apprehension that the report will be kept in cold storage.”
He said the government decision to put the report on the official website is a bold decision and courageous.
To a question whether they favour abolition of Article 370 while recommending special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 371, Padgaonkar said “what we have said is that we are not inventing something. Under article 371 there are several states of the Union which have been designated as special category states.
“We have just said that you remove the word temporary as regards J and K and use the word special as it is being done in the case of several states. We have listed the state which come under the category of special states. Instead of temporary, we wanted to put the word special in line with what is being done with the other states.” (PTI)


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