The interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir have recommended upholding its ‘special status’ under Article 370 of the Constitution while reviewing all laws extended to the state and creating an atmosphere for talks both with the separatists and Pakistan.
The final report of the interlocutors — Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and MM Ansari — was made public Thursday, seven months after it was submitted to the home ministry. It was immediately rejected by the BJP and the separatists.
The government, on its part, is unlikely to implement the recommendations immediately and kept a safe distance from them. “The views are of the interlocutors. The government has not yet taken a decision,” a ministry statement said, adding that it welcomed an “informed debate”.
The contents of the report were first reported by HT on April 20, 2011 and again on September 3 on the basis of interim and final drafts.
The report suggests a constitutional committee be formed to review all laws and articles of the Constitution extended to J&K after the 1952 agreement between New Delhi and Srinagar that also gave the state 'special status'. No act of Parliament shall be applied to J&K except those concerning security matters, it says.
"This does not mean a simple return to the pre-1953 situation. The clock cannot be set back. Instead, the group wants such a review to take into full account the changes that have taken place in the last six decades," the report says.
The interlocutors recommend replacing the word 'temporary' on the heading of Article 370 with 'special'. "The ambiguity in Article 370 (the word 'temporary') has aided both communal and political polarization between and within regions of the state,'' the report says.
It suggests several confidence-building measures (CBMs), including a review of the Disturbed Areas Act, re-appraisal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act, improvement of police-community relations, etc.
The BJP, which has long demanded that Article 370 be abolished, said the report would "weaken" India's position on the border state.
In J&K's separatist camp, the moderate Hurriyat said CBMs cannot be a way out while the hardline faction said it never took cognizance of the panel's existence.
Inputs from HTC, New Delhi