Militants held at the Srinagar Central Jail told the team of Jammu and Kashmir interlocutors on Sunday they would have to prove their sincerity in solving the Kashmir dispute if they expected to be taken seriously.
The team — comprising senior journalist Dileep Padgoankar, academic Radha Kumar and former bureaucrat MM Ansari — spent around 90 minutes with the jailed militants in the morning, their second meeting following a brief interaction on Saturday evening.
About half a dozen people detained on terror charges, belonging to the Lashkar-e-Tayebba, the Hizbul Mujahideen, the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Al Badr held discussions with the team insisting that Pakistan had to be taken on board while working out any solution to Kashmir.
The reaction was sharp, however, when team leader Dileep Padgaonkar reiterated the same sentiment at a press conference later in the day. "Every successive government in India has engaged with Pakistan on the issue," said Padgaonkar. "It is a bilateral dispute that has been going on since 1947-48."
The BJP responded by questioning whether Padgaonkar had the authority to bring in Pakistan. "The prime minister’s office should immediately clarify if this was part of the brief given to the interlocutors," said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi. "Or have they stepped beyond their brief?”
In Srinagar, the jailed militants insisted the team would have to first establish its credibility. "They told us we need to prevail upon the government to bring about a congenial atmosphere first,” Radha Kumar told Hindustan Times.