New interlocutors to re-start dialogue in
Wednesday, October 13, 2010 04:48:30 PM,
The government Wednesday named journalist Dilip Padgaonkar,
Information Commissioner M.M. Ansari and academician Radha Kumar
as its new interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir to re-start dialogue
with "all shades of political opinion" and help bring peace in the
Home Minister P. Chidambaram told reporters here that "we have
appointed the group of interlocutors", calling the three "very
"We may add one more interlocutor later," the home minister told
He said the government hoped the interlocutors would "begin a
process of sustained uninterrupted dialogue with all sections of
people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially with youths and students
and all shades of political opinion".
The move, which Chidambaram said was a "clear demonstration of the
seriousness on the part of the government of India" to solve the
problems that have been there "for many, many years", comes in the
wake of renewed unrest in Kashmir Valley in the last four months
which has left at least 109 civilians dead, mostly in firing by
The decision to have a new group of interlocutors was taken at the
Cabinet Committee on Security meeting chaired by Prime Manmohan
Singh last month. Re-starting peace talks in Kashmir and
appointing interlocutors is part of the eight-point initiative
announced by the government after the Sep 25 cabinet meeting.
The government had also announced ex-gratia relief for the
families of those killed since June 11.
Without naming separatist leaders, Chidambaram urged the
politicians of Jammu and Kashmir to engage with the interlocutors.
"I would appeal to all sections of people of Jammu and Kashmir and
all shades of political opinion to engage with the interlocutors
so that we can move forward on the path of finding a solution to
The group will cover the views of all the three regions -- Jammu,
Ladakh and Kashmir.
Asked why the panel included no political person, Chidambaram said
they "have a political persona".
"All of them are well known to the people of India. All of them
are engaged in work which is in public domain and we think they
are very credible people, people with a good track record."
The government's earlier move to engage separatist leaders in
"quiet talks, quiet diplomacy" had failed in December last year.
The process broke down when militants shot and severely injured
Hurriyat leader Fazal Qureshi.
Qureshi is a senior leader of the Mirwaiz Umar Farooq-led Hurriyat
faction that had agreed to secretly talk to the government of
Two of the three new interlocutors were involved in the Kashmir
peace process earlier at different times. Padgaonkar was a member
of the Kashmir Committee led by eminent lawyer and now Bharatiya
Janata Party MP Ram Jethmalani.
Radha Kumar, who heads the Nelson Mandela Institute of Peace in
Jamia Millia Islamia, was engaged in back-channel discussions with
moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and hardliner Syed Ali
Shah Geelani. She was in the valley recently and had visited
Geelani at a hospital in Srinagar where he was undergoing
Noted educationist and economist Ansari was a professor and
director at the Hamdard University before becoming information
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