The three-member panel of interlocutors tasked to chart a course towards finding a political solution for Jammu and Kashmir will have a free hand, Home Minister P Chidambaram said on Wednesday.
"There are no red lines. Their main brief is to chart a course towards a political solution. All the rest is in aid of a political solution," he said a day after he briefed the interlocutors on their extended mandate.
Reservations had been expressed in the state when the government — that had set out to appoint a senior political leader as its prime interlocutor — settled for a low-profile team of three interlocutors.
Only two of them — journalist Dileep Padgaonkar and academic professor Radha Kumar — have been associated with developments in the state in the past. The third, professor M M Ansari, an economist by training, was appointed to the Central Information Commission on a five-year term, which ends this month.
Chidambaram said the brief of the interlocutors was to hold the widest consultations in the state, meet a very large number of people from different sections of society, especially political parties, political leaders, political groups, university teachers, students and NGOs.
"They will gather every shade of opinion on how to find a political solution to the issue of J&K," the home minister said.
Sources said the panel was planning to make its first visit to the Kashmir valley this weekend, after holding consultations with the Prime Minister, UPA chief Sonia Gandhi, leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and members of the all-party delegation that recently travelled to the state.
"It is with a complete open mind that we will be going to Jammu and Kashmir as often as we can," Padgaonkar said.
The group plans to give a report to the government incorporating their suggestions and recommendations after every visit.