Unlike their Kashmiri counterparts, the people of border region of Rajouri-Poonch are against the demand for 'azadi' and division of Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre-appointed interlocutors for the state said today.
"The aspirations of people here in this belt is totally different from that of Kashmir. They are against azadi and division of Jammu and Kashmir. We will raise their demands and suggestions before the Government of India (GOI)," Chief Interlocutor Dileep Padgaonkar told reporters in Rajouri.
Ruling out the Kashmir-centric approach, he said that their exercise was not such at all. "We believe in taking everybody, every section, every community and three regions onboard to know their demands, suggestions and aspirations to find out a durable political settlement to fulfill aspirations of all the people of Jammu and Kashmir," he said.
Padgaonkar along with M M Ansari and Radha Kumar are on a two-day visit to the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch.
The interlocutors have met around 43 delegations in Poonch and 13 delegations in Rajouri till today. "Here the people are more inclined towards India. One reason may be that they (the people in the border district) have witnessed many wars and suffered. And they have also faced great hardships due to Pakistani firing. I think they are actually the sufferers of war," Ansari remarked. Most of the delegations which met them were against the division of the state, he said.
"Some raised local grievances besides employment issues, discrimination with this border district. Some people whose relatives are living on border and whose relatives are living across the border demanded 'irrelevant borders' vis-a-vis PoK," Ansari stated.
He denied that the confidence building measures (CBMs) proposed by the panel were Kashmir-centric and criticised the media for negative reporting. The former central information commissioner asserted that the CBMs are for people of all the regions of the state.
Radha Kumar said that Rajouri, Poonch and Doda are most backward and underdeveloped areas of Jammu and Kashmir. People have demanded Development Council and we will recommend it to GOI, she said. The effort of the panel would be to evolve consensus vis-a-vis a political solution to Kashmir, acceptable to all the three regions of Jammu and Kashmir, she added.