In his article Half-hearted, half-baked (May 4), Hilal Mir's reference to Jayaprakash Narayan's 1964 article — in which he urged the government of India to let the Kashmiris exercise their right to self-determination — is accurate. But in fairness to HT readers, Mir should have pointed out that Narayan changed his position four years later. At a people's convention, held soon after Shaikh Abdullah was released from detention in January 1968, Narayan, an old friend and sympathiser of the Kashmiri leader, went on record to say that he was all in favour of autonomy for J&K. But he insisted that in the wake of the 1965 war the question of self-determination was theoretical and Pakistan had no role to play. Narayan's stand was unacceptable to Shaikh Abdullah. (Ajit Bhattacharjea, who was present on the occasion, has given a fine account of these differences in his book Kashmir: The Wounded Valley)
Shaikh Abdullah shifted his own stance in later years. In a letter addr-essed to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on February 11, 1975, he wrote: "The accession of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to India is not a matter in issue. It is my firm belief that the future of J&K lies with India because of the common ideals that we share.... It will be my constant endeavour to ensure that the State of Jammu and Kashmir continues to make its contribution to the sovereignty, integrity and progress of the Nation."
"By that same token, I am sure that the Central Government would cooperate fully with the State Government in respect of measures to be undertaken by the State Government to further the progress and welfare of the people of the State as an integral part of India." (Full text of the letter is in AG Noorani's book Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir)
These are precisely the ideas and sentiments that echo throughout the report of the group of interlocutors for J&K.
The other issues raised by Mir, notably about the so-called contradictions in the report, will be addressed at meetings that we propose to hold in J&K and elsewhere over the next few weeks. Their purpose is to get a structured feedback on the group's recommendations. These are not cast in stone. Precise, concrete and specific ideas and insights to finesse them — and not self-serving rhetoric that questions the bona fides of the interlocutors — would help to carry forward the peace process leading to a permanent political settlement in J&K — one that is acceptable to all stakeholders within and beyond the state.
Dileep Padgaonkar is former chairman, Group of Interlocutors for J&K. The views expressed by the author are personal.