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We must take all stakeholders on board: Kashmir interlocutors

Last updated on: October 27, 2010 13:55 IST

Advocating "baby steps" for pushing forward the dialogue process on Jammu and Kashmir, Centre's interlocutors on Wednesday said besides interacting with all shades of opinion in the state, they had a huge task of taking all the stakeholders in the country on board.

"The exercise will be futile if Parliament, which represents the political opinion of the country, is not taken on board. We know it is a huge task but it has to be done," Dileep Padgaonkar, who is heading the three-member panel, told mediapersons in a freewheeling interaction in Srinagar.

He said during the four days of interaction with the cross-section of the society in Kashmir, the interlocutors got a valuable insight into the issue as they attempt to find a comprehensive and permanent solution to it.

"We heard political opinions on Kashmir and also the day-to-day problems faced by the people like not being able to move freely or getting milk for children," Padgaonkar said.

He said one should not expect major strides after the first visit of the team to the state, saying, "We will have to take baby steps for pushing forward the dialogue process."

Padgaonkar said the group will be making recommendations to the Centre, after holding similar interactions in Jammu on Wednesday and Thursday, for improving the situation in the state.

"The issue of release of political prisoners, stone pelters and lifting of curfew will be among the top priorities in the short term," he said.

Padgaonkar said he was of the opinion that peaceful assembly and protests should be allowed in the Valley.

"We want to hear the view point of the security agencies also. Just because 12 youngsters want to hold protests, Section 144 CrPC (prohibitory orders) cannot be invoked

Apparently referring to the remarks of BJP MP Ram Jethmalani, Padgaonkar said a senior leader of a political party, which had criticised him, had broken away from the party line to support him.

"The fact that Parliament passed a resolution (for getting back the territory of Jammu and Kashmir under Pakistani control) makes Pakistan a party," he said.

The eminent journalist said he was hoping that more people will adopt a realistic attitude while an attempt is made to resolve the Kashmir problem.

On the refusal of the separatists to meet them, he said, "As and when they decide to meet us, we will be ready but the invitation has to come from them".

Padgaonkar said while he was sure of getting the "legendary hospitality" of Kashmir from the separatists if the interlocutors decided to visit them, he would not like to embarrass them.

"We would like to keep their dignity and ours as well," he added. Professor Radha Kumar said the interlocutors will travel to all the districts of the state in order to get the feel of the ground situation.

"When we visit the districts, we will get a better understanding about whether the deployment of security forces and their bunkers at particular places was needed," she said.

Asked if the mandate of the interlocutors was to go beyond the Constitution of India while seeking a solution to Kashmir issue, Kumar said, "Constitution is such a beautiful and flexible document that it has been amended over 100 times. Why cannot it be done again if there is consensus on it?"

Padgaonkar said ideally a solution to Kashmir issue should be acceptable to people from all parts of the state including those under the occupation of Pakistan.

The interlocutors urged the journalists to allow them to go about their work without interference. "Many times when we go to meet the people and media is already present, they tend to speak for the cameras rather that what they wish to. In some cases, people have expressed security concerns if they come into the media glare while meeting us," they said.

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