New Delhi: Advocating
"meaningful autonomy" and speedy development, the three
interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir submitted their report to Home
Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday, a year after they were
appointed to draw a roadmap to peace, sources said.
The interlocutors -- journalist Dileep Padgoankar, academic Radha
Kumar and former civil servant M.M. Ansari -- are learnt to have
also recommended the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers
Act (AFSPA) and the Disturbed Areas Act from the state that has
seen a bruising insurgency for over two decades.
"The minister has told us he would now take the report forward,"
Padgaonkar told reporters after presenting the report.
The report, sources said, has recommended developmental councils
for all the three regions - Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh - and
devolution of powers to the sub-regions.
It also recommends a massive economic package to tackle the huge
unemployment in the state and major infrastructure development to
provide connectivity and boost tourism, officials in the know
While avoiding the "pre-1952 status" phraseology, the report
speaks about ensuring "meaningful autonomy" for the state, while
preserving its distinct regional and ethnic diversities, it is
The report has also put on record the perceptions of the hundreds
of people the team had interacted with during the past one year
and even the views of the separatists, who refused to interact
with them, the sources added.
The trio was appointed Oct 13 last year, when the Kashmir
situation had turned grim following street protests and the
killing of more than 100 youth.
A year on, there was apprehension in Jammu, one of the three main
regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Residents in the region felt the
report could be "one sided and against the interests of Jammu".
"In their last press conference in Srinagar the interlocutors said
clearly they would be addressing the aspirations of the people
within the framework of the country's constitution," said
professor Muzaffar Ahmad, a college teacher in Srinagar.
Jammu's main demand is for an increase in the number of
legislative assembly seats. The region has 37 seats in the house
of 87, the Valley has 46, while Ladakh has four seats.
The separatists say the interlocutors' report is immaterial and
what really matters is a permanent settlement of the Kashmir
Abdul Gani Bhat, spokesperson and former chairman of the moderate
Hurriyat group, told IANS in Srinagar that what mattered was the
permanent settlement of the dispute on Kashmir.
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani called the appointment
of the interlocutors another gimmick by New Delhi to push the
dispute under the carpet.