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J&K interlocutors face flak for report Omar backs

india Updated: Sep 04, 2012 01:16 IST
HT Correspondent

Senior journalist Dilip Padgaonkar and academic Radha Kumar, two of the three-member team of interlocutors appointed by the UPA government to recommend ways to solve the Kashmir problem, faced flak during a recent visit to the Valley to obtain feedback on their 170-page report.

But Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who reserved his comment when the report was placed in the union home ministry's website in May, came out in its support. He said it can form the basis of a dialogue between the Centre and the state.

"The report can pave the path for meeting the aspirations of the people of the state on the basis of a broader consensus that emerges from the process of the internal dialogue," Abdullah said.

The interlocutors' visit however elicited a feeble response in Srinagar. Only 30 people attended a meeting with Padgaonkar and Kumar at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre, which can accommodate over 200 people.

The third member of the team, former CIC MM Ansari, did not come either.

Separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who had boycotted the interlocutors, described the report as the Centre's "tactics to buy time".

Slamming the report, Independent MLA Engineer Rashid said, "This is another chapter of betrayal by India. The Kashmir issue is simple and the solutions are simple. But it has been tangled further."

Said Kashmir University political scientist Prof Gul Wani, "The recommendations are clear on Ladakh region being taken away from Kashmir but when it comes to Kashmir itself, the interlocutors are hesitant."

"People can put forth their observations," said Padgaonkar.

"We need to correct the perception that the report is our opinion. It is based on our year-long interlocution, where we
visited all districts and met people from all walks of life," said Kumar.