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Kashmir interlocutors meet BJP leaders

Monday January 17, 2011 07:29:56 PM, IANS

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Jammu: For the first time since they were appointed over three months ago, the three interlocutors on Kashmir held a meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party leaders here Monday. The party had announced its boycott of the government-appointed interlocutors during their first visit of the state in October last year.

The three interlocutors - journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, noted international studies professor Radha Kumar and former information commissioner M.M. Ansari - drove to the BJP office in a congested Jammu locality, Kacchi Chawani, and interacted with the senior leaders.

The BJP's state unit president Shamsher Singh Manhas and his predecessor and MLA Ashok Khajuria were among those who spoke to the interlocutors and told them what they felt was the way forward for Jammu and Kashmir.

"Article 370, which gives special status to Jammu and Kashmir within the Indian union, should be scrapped. That would end all doubts over the issue and there would be no problem," Manhas told the interlocutors, according to a party official.

The interlocutors took copious notes of the BJP leaders' views and also asked them about the purpose of the party's plans to unfurl the national tricolour in Srinagar Jan 26, to which Manhas is reported to have responded that the move was to "underscore national unity".

"We believe that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India, as citizens of this country we have the right to hoist the flag anywhere in the country," he said.

The visit of the interlocutors Monday - their fourth to the state - is in sharp contrast to their first visit when the BJP leaders had raised objection to their statements and decided not to meet them. The intelocutors are visiting Jammu region for the second time.

At that time Manhas had said that the "interlocutors were speaking like separatists". He was against the observations of Padgaonkar that "Kashmir issue had to be settled by talking to Pakistan".

The BJP believes that Kashmir issue is settled and the only issue to be settled was the vacation of the territory of the state "illegally held by Pakistan".






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