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We will address people's aspirations: Kashmir interlocutors

Wednesday September 21, 2011 03:36:44 PM, IANS

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Srinagar: The recommendations of the interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir will address the political, social and cultural aspirations of the people without disrupting the identity of the state, the team's head Dileep Padgaonkar said Wednesday.

Addressing their last press conference here as central interlocutors, Padgaonkar, M.M. Ansari and Radha Kumar thanked the people and the media for the hospitality shown to them during the 11 months they interacted with over 700 delegations, met over 5,000 people, held three roundtable conferences and visited various parts of the state.

"We have listened to the stories of the sufferings the people went through and this made us understand the seriousness of the task we undertook here," Padgaonkar said.

He said during these 11 months, the levels of violence had declined, and tourists and pilgrims in unprecedented numbers visited Kashmir.

"But the peace here is fragile and it needs to be consolidated. People have the right to be empowered to exercise their democratic rights," he said.

The interlocutors refused to be dragged into the controversy of accepting that their job had been to address the various contours of the Kashmir issue.

"We should not be involved in the semantics. Some call it a dispute, some call it an issue while others maintain Kashmir is a problem. We will not get entangled in the vocabulary.

"In our opinion we are convinced that permanent peace is only possible if the political aspirations of the people are addressed," Padgaonkar said.

He said their emphasis has been on the political solution as "there is a sense of victimhood in all the three regions of the state".

About the Kashmiri separatists who had categorically refused to meet them, Padgaonkar said: "We know their positions on various issues and we will also speak about those views in our recommendations."

Padgaonkar asserted that any solution outside the purview of the Indian constitution was not accepted to the other regions of the state.

Asked about the quantum of autonomy the interlocutors had in mind for the state, he said: "The baggage of history is very contentious. People here need to be empowered to exercise their democratic rights."

The interlocutors said they would not talk about Pakistan-administered Kashmir as that was not within their mandate. "We were not mandated to talk about the other Kashmir," Padgaonkar said.

Asked whether after meeting thousands of Kashmiris the interlocutors would have a joint view about the Afzal Guru conviction, Padgaonkar said: "I do not see there will be a specific reference to the issue in our recommendations, but individually we hold our opinions on the issue."

The interlocutors will submit their report to the central government shortly.





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