A rift over two of three interlocutors on Kashmir participating in
conferences suspected to have been funded by Pakistan's spy agency ISI has cast a shadow on the work of the panel, tasked with
drawing a roadmap for peace in the valley. But none has offered to
quit the team.
The panel, appointed by the home ministry last year, comprises
academician Radha Kumar, journalist Dileep Padgaonkar and
bureaucrat M.M. Ansari.
Radha Kumar has written to Home Minister P. Chidambaram following
"the smear campaign" by her colleague Ansari over her
participation in a Kashmir conference in Brussels suspected to be
organised by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
"I am angry with Mr Ansari's remarks. It appears he is indulging
in some smear campaign," Radha Kumar told IANS. She refused to
speak about the letter to Chidambaram but maintained that she
would continue working with the panel till the final report was
The government said the note by Radha Kumar was not a resignation
letter as suggested by some media reports.
"The interlocutors have completed their visit of Jammu and Kashmir
and are busy finalising their report," a home ministry
spokesperson told IANS.
The other point of tension has been Ansari's comments against
Padgaonkar for attending a conference in Washington organised by
Kashmiri separatist and suspected ISI agent G.N. Fai.
"The revelation that Padgaonkar attended an ISI-backed conference
and Radha Kumar went for a similar one in Brussels damaged our
credibility. In their place, I would have quit," Ansari had said
following the arrest of Fai in the US last month.
Radha Kumar has justified her participation in the Brussels
conference jointly organised by James Elles, a member of the
European Parliament, and Abdul Majeed Tramboo.
Tramboo, a barrister, runs a Kashmir centre in Brussels which is
under the scanner for suspected financial links with the ISI.
Radha Kumar said her participation in the Brussels conference was
very well known and she had gone there to present an "unbiased"
view on Kashmir.
She said she and other Indian participants, including Kashmiri
mainstream politicians, had been in touch with the ministry of
external affairs (MEA).
The government, she said, also encouraged their participation in
the discussion that was likely to be heavily biased against India.
Following the Brussels conference, the academician added, she
accompanied Baroness Emma Nicholson, then EU rapporteur for
Kashmir, on a fact-finding trip to Jammu and Kashmir.
Nicholson had written a famous report on the divided parts of
Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan saying the territory
under Islamabad's rule was suffering from grave poverty and human
The interlocutors are expected to meet Chidambaram by the middle
of this month. Their term expires in October and they have to
submit their final recommendations on the "contours of Kashmir
resolution" by then.