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Disappointed, say Kashmiris to interlocutors' report

Saturday October 15, 2011 10:24:27 AM, Sheikh Qayoom, IANS

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Srinagar: Meaningful autonomy, speedy development and a massive economic package...central interlocutors may have suggested all this as a balm for insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir, but common Kashmiris, separatists and mainstream parties in the valley mince no words to say they are disappointed.

Even though the complete contours of their report are yet to be made public, the man on the street says no amount of economic stimulation can provide a solution to the political problems of Kashmir.

A year after they were appointed, the interlocutors - journalist Dileep Padgoankar, academic Radha Kumar and former civil servant M.M. Ansari - have submitted a report that outlines a roadmap for the government to address sensitive issues linked to the state.

The dismissal of the report by the separatists has been on expected lines.

"We did not meet them; we have nothing to do with what they recommend," said Yasin Malik, chairman of the Pro-Azadi Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), referring to the interlocutors' report submitted to union Home Minster P. Chidambaram Wednesday.

Both Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairmen of the two separatist Hurriyat factions, have said there is nothing in the report to indicate a step forward on the Kashmir issue.

While the Congress party has maintained a discreet silence on the report, its ruling alliance partner, the National Conference (NC), has been highly critical of the recommendations or whatever is known of it through the media.

G.N. Ratanpuri, the NC MP, has said the report has completely vindicated the stand of the separatists who have maintained all along that the appointment of the team was merely an exercise to buy time.

"The interlocutors have only acted like the employees of the central government. New Delhi's non-serious approach towards the solution of the Kashmir issue has given rise to militancy in the state," Ratanpuri told mediapersons.

The NC leadership, except Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, has been publicly criticising the report.

"For both the NC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the reservations about the report are understandable since the report has neither spoken of the NC's autonomy proposal nor of the PDP's self-rule document as a building block for the permanent resolution of the Kashmir problem," Muzaffar Ahmad, a college teacher here, told IANS.

The interlocutors are learnt to have recommended the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Disturbed Areas Act from the state that has seen a murderous insurgency for over two decades.

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, said sources.

Ironically, the common man in the valley believes the reported recommendations to form regional councils separately for Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir could be a prelude to the final trifurcation of the state.

"They said more autonomy for Jammu and Ladakh. This gives an impression as if the real problem lies there. Regional councils will only increase the void between the three regions. I think the interlocutors had come to solve one problem and they have gone back, carrying a hundred problems with them," Gulam Rasool, 59, a retired teacher, told IANS.

Youth in the valley are in agreement over the interlocutors reportedly mentioning the lack of employment avenues, but say issues like development and better education would always remain subservient to the looming uncertainty about a political solution.

"Yes, I am happy that the interlocutors have said the burning problem of unemployment must be addressed. Personally, I would get a nice job if better employment avenues are created here," said Sheikh Farooq, 32, an unemployed engineer here.

"But the unending violence, uncertainty about tomorrow, the fear of a gunfight between the militants and the security forces would always remain there unless the political problem is addressed. Permanent peace would remain elusive."

Sharief-ud-Din, 32, who sells garments in the Sunday market in city centre Lal Chowk, said: "Teams have come and they have made recommendations from time to time. But tell me for god's sake what finally happened because of those recommendations?"

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at







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