The report of the government nominated interlocutors on Kashmir mostly went along the expected lines. Except when they made atrocious suggestions which would throw the state politically back into the pre-1953 days.
The three interlocutors, to begin with had no locus standi on Kashmir. Two members of the three-member team were thoroughly exposed, when information came that they had accepted the hospitality and patronage of Ghulam Nabi Fai, the international lobbyist (now in US jail) for Pakistan on Kashmir. He is an ISI mole and was stationed abroad, mainly in the US to influence people and decisions in favour of Pakistan. Dileep Padgaonkar, and Radha Kumar, had been guests of Fai, the former more regular than the latter. The third member of the team was former information commissioner M.M. Ansari. He wanted to quit after the other two were exposed as Fai proteges.
The report by these three was put out on the Home Ministry website, a few hours after the parliament session ended. It was an obvious ploy to avoid a serious discussion in Parliament. The interlocutors claimed that they had met hundreds of people from all walks of life to come to any conclusion and suggestions on Kashmir.
The most unacceptable suggestion is to review all the rules and laws passed after 1952-53, the period which strengthened the position of Kashmir as part of India. After the campaign launched by the charismatic leader of Jan Sangh, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee against the state of Jammu and Kashmir having a different emblem, flag and motto, than the Union of India, the Indian government acted to end this ‘duality.‘ Till then the chief minister of the state was called the prime minister of Kashmir. In this fight to integrate Kashmir into India irrevocably, Dr Mukherjee lost his life, in prison. Suspicions of foul play have been in the air since, not ever resolved.
The interlocutors want to undo this. They have suggested a return to the titles of Wazir-e-Azam and Sadar-e-Riyasat for the chief minister and governor of the state. In a most abhorrent stand, the Indian government nominees, paid from the Indian tax payers‘ money have sought to change the position of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to Pakistan Administered Jammu and Kashmir. This extends the area of Pakistani operation to Jammu and ‘occupation‘ has become administration. How very smooth! It contradicts the sentiment of the Indian parliament, which in a 1994 resolution promised to win back the territories occupied by Pakistan.
The report glosses over the prevailing extremist communal atmosphere in the state, as dictated by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists which prevents Hindus and Sikhs from going back to their homes. It has no solutions to offer on ending terrorism in the valley. On the other hand, the report promotes ‘separateness‘ of the Kashmiris from the others. Kashmiriat is an old, cliched, meaningless expression, which is being flaunted whenever there is talk of diluting such laws as Article 370, which keep the state a sore thumb of the Indian Union.
The BJP and the RSS have wholly rejected the report and rightly so. The BJP, which took note of this report during the National Executive meeting in Mumbai passed a resolution condemning and damning the report. It highlighted six points in the report which made it absolutely unacceptable. The interlocutors have suggested that Article 370 should be made permanent.
The interlocutors’ report comes at a time when there are rumours that the UPA government is working on a secret agreement with Pakistan on withdrawing troops from Siachen, that it is mulling over the proposal to cut back troops in Kashmir and under pressure from state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is planning to open free movement across the LoC, especially between PoK and Kashmir.
The state government too is doing its bit to bring Pakistan closer to Kashmir. The Chief Minister holds his cabinet meeting at LoC and kow-tows to the terrorists on the duration of the Amarnath Yatra.
The report of the interlocutors should be confined to the dustbin because the motive and commitment of at least two of its members are suspect. The team, to begin with, had no political sanction. The members were selected by the government probably because of their Fai-Pakistan connections. Kashmir is not a game for experimenting. There is but one way forward on Kashmir. And that is to integrate it fully into the Indian Union, by removing Article 370 and other special privileges bestowed upon it.