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Mediators for talks with Pak

Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit next month, the Indian government appears to be taking a more accommodative stance vis-à-vis Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute.

india Updated: Oct 23, 2010 23:20 IST
HT Correspondent

Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit next month, the Indian government appears to be taking a more accommodative stance vis-à-vis Pakistan on the Kashmir dispute.

A team of negotiators from New Delhi arrived in Srinagar on Saturday to talk to separatists.

“There is a Pakistan dimension to this issue since 1947,” said journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, who heads the panel. “Any attempt to have a comprehensive solution without Pakistan’s involvement is not possible. Pakistan has to be involved.”

A day earlier, Union home minister P Chidambaram had said in Punjab that India was willing to move half-way on Kashmir.

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has said he won’t meet the Central team unless the government accepts Kashmir as an international dispute.

Moderate leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has advocated a trilateral dialogue, which includes Pakistan.

Separatists have also demanded the release of political prisoners, a guarantee to end human rights violations in the Valley, demilitarisation and punishment to securitymen responsible for killing youth protesters this summer.

More than 100 protesters died in clashes with security forces between June and September, forcing the Central government to send an all-party delegation to the Valley last month.

Padgaonkar’s team, which includes educationist Radha Kumar and information commissioner MM Ansari, plans

to visit jails, meet political prisoners and push for their release during its four-day stay.

“We will meet stone-throwers, injured in hospital and prisoners in jails. Today (Saturday) we will go to the central jail besides meeting opposition Peoples Democratic Party leader Muzaffar Hussein Baig,” said Kumar.

The state government has already decided to release separatist leader Shabbir Shah, who has spent nine months in jail, on parole.

The interlocutors also said they were ready to discuss all options, including independence, self-rule and autonomy. “The home minister has spelled out Kashmir is a unique problem requiring a unique solution,” said Padgaonkar.