The panel of interlocutors for Kashmir is likely be a mix of MPs and experienced Kashmir hands, sources close to the development have told Hindustan Times.
The setting up of such a panel — to talk to all sections of people in the troubled state, and thereby find ways to bring back normalcy there — was the highlight of an eight-point peace package agreed upon at a meeting of the cabinet committee on security on Saturday.
Several members of the delegation that visited Kashmir earlier this month said they foresaw a panel composed mainly of parliamentarians because such a demand had been voiced from within Kashmir itself.
“A parliamentary panel will be a natural next step to build on. There could be a few intellectuals and experts on Kashmir in it too,” CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury told HT.
Getting the right man to head the panel is the first big challenge. “He must be acceptable across the political spectrum. He should be acceptable to the government and yet somebody who is not seen as merely complaint,” Yechury said.
Yechury’s proactive approach in Kashmir, when he took the initiative to meet separatist leaders even though the latter had declined to visit the delegation, helped the Centre to intervene, albeit belatedly, in the crisis.
Several MPs said Yechury himself had the potential to play a key role, given his proven negotiating skills in bringing the Nepal Maoists into the political mainstream and his image of being “unbiased”.
“I think Yechury has a good understanding of the issue,” Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.
Habibullah himself is being viewed as a potential candidate to head the panel. He has been involved in back-channel negotiations with different sections of Kashmiris for some time. “I have been routinely briefing the PM and the home minister. I am willing to take up any role if asked to,” Habibullah said.
Kashmir is also emerging as a potentially new area of collaboration between the UPA and its former allies, the Left.
The CPM’s major recommendations on Kashmir have been accepted by the UPA, including the ones for an all-party delegation, first made on July 26, and for the interlocutors’ panel itself.