Interlocutors’ report on J&K
The Interlocutors Report on Jammu & Kashmir is no surprise. After all, what else could have been expected from the Interlocutors, who were seen enjoying luxurious hospitality of ISI agent Ghulam Nabi Fai before submitting their report! The Home Minister is also a culprit in this case, as despite knowing their ISI links he continued such people in this team.
What has come out in the form of a report by this team is a treasonous document which reflects no different mindset than the report of 5th Working Group constituted by Dr Manmohan Singh in 2007 under the chairmanship of former Supreme Court judge Shri Saghir Ahmed. The report strengthens the anti-India as well as pro-separatist stand on Kashmir and is a clear attempt to confuse the nation on public expenses. “What was the need to spend so much money for a report like this, as it could have been procured free of cost from the Hurriat leaders,” comments J&K Study Centre chairman Jawaharlal Kaul.
The report suggests formation of a Constitutional Committee to review all Central Acts and Articles of Constitution extended to J&K after signing the 1952 Sheikh-Nehru Agreement and recommending, wherever needed, withdrawal of the same. It talks of dual character of J&K, dual status of people of J&K, and Delhi Accord of 1952 as basis of the Centre–State relations. It further suggested to make Article 370 permanent by deleting the world ‘temporary’ from its description and naming it ‘Special Status Article’ by amendment in the Constitution. Referring to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) as ‘Pakistan Administered Kashmir’ the report says that the people who have come to this side from ‘Pakistan Administered Kashmir’ have no right to vote in elections and seek employment in J&K.
The interlocutors clearly try to dilute the authority of India over J&K by recommending that the State Government should send three names with opposition’s consultation to the President of India, who would accept one of them for the post of Governor. They even recommended the use of equal denomination of Urdu words for Governor and Chief Minister.
The word ‘Pak Administered Kashmir’ is the term which is normally used by separatists. Even Pakistan never used this word and called it only ‘Azad Kashmir’. This also goes against the February 22, 1994 Resolution of Parliament on J&K that resolved for liberation of PoK. How could the Ministry of P Chidambram overlook such acts of the Interlocutors is a big question.
The interlocutors stress the need to start dialogue with Hurriyat groups, then with the ‘stake holders in PoK’ and then with Pakistan. But at the same time they do not require to have consultations with the people of Jammu, Laddakh, Shia Muslims, Gujjar Muslims, refugees of PoK and West Pakistan of 1947, Kashmiri Hindu migrant of 1990, because the interlocutors do not accept them as ‘genuine stake holders’.
The report mentions the people who were uprooted from Pakistan occupied areas in 1947 as ‘migrants’ whereas in the order of 1950 signed by Sheikh Abdullah and Nehru they were named as ‘Displaced Persons’ and still they, for all technical reference purposes, are known as PoK Displaced Persons. This shows the casual approach of the Interlocutors. PoK displaced persons do hold the status of State Subjects of J&K/permanent residents and hence have right to vote for J&K Assembly, right to employment in J&K services, right to admission in state professional colleges and right to property. “This clearly demonstrates that the interlocutors team has made no attempt to know about the realities of J&K and were ignorant of the facts even after spending one complete year on the job. It appears they were pre-occupied with the concepts and did not make use of any information that was provided to them by local people from outside the conventional resource teams and those particularly from areas outside Kashmir Valley,” says noted columnist of Jammu and also an expert on J&K affairs Dayasagar.
The interlocutors accept the sense of deprivation and discrimination in Jammu and Laddakh regions, but do not call for ‘delimitation of Assembly and Parliament seats’ to end the manipulated domination of Kashmir in state’s politics. “There is no discussion about registration of PoK people, their representation in Parliament and demand of filling 24 vacant legislative seats kept for people of PoK by 10 lakh refugees presently in Jammu and rest of India. Even there is not a single word on fate of most unfortunate four lakh refugees from West Pakistan since 1947. The report also does not take into consideration the plight of weaker sections including SCs, STs and OBCs, who are deprived of their due rights provided by the Constitution of India due to Article 370,” added Shri Kaul.
The interlocutors claim that their report addresses the ‘sensitive issue of deep-rooted feeling of victimhood prevailing in Kashmir Valley’ but they do not explain who are responsible for spread of misinformation, creating mistrust between rest of India and Kashmir Valley, misgovernance in the Valley, communalisation of the society in Kashmir, spread of terrorism, permitting false sense of victimhood to be used by the ISI and Pakistan against India, forced migration and persecution of Kashmiri Hindus, and marginalisation of nationalist forces in the Valley. In the entire report there is not a single word for praise for the security forces, accepting the role of Army and criticising the intentions of Pakistan. But the interlocutors did not forget to call the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) as ‘controversial’, and suggesting review of Disturbed Area Act, Amendment of PSA, as, they said, all these laws are cause of miseries for the people of the Valley.
The team claims to have met 700 delegations and a few thousand people of 22 districts of J&K. But they have not quoted the names of the persons and the suggestions made by the people outside Kashmir Valley. No separatist leader met them in Kashmir Valley, but they still recommend the Union Government to engage them in dialogue. “It is a report that Union Government and the State Government required in the name of consensus of people and stake holders of the state. This is addressed only to the separatist mindset, which is in minority in the state by the confused, ignorant and compromising attitude of India,” added Shri Dayasagar.
The government while distancing itself from the report described it as the ‘views of the interlocutors’ and called for an ‘informed debate’ on it. But the question is why it loaded the report on the website of Ministry of Home Affairs, if it disagreed with its findings. Also loading the report on the website just next day of the Parliament session is over (May 24) also raises questions on the intention of the government.
The group of three interlocutors (Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and MM Ansari) was appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs on October 13, 2010. It submitted its report to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on October 12, 2011. While constituting the team, the terms of reference of the interlocutors were not made clear to the public. Only thing the people could understand was that a group of three has to feel the pulse of the people of J&K and communicate the same to the central government. How would the central government proceed on their report too was left undisclosed. “But one thing was sure that the people who were really concerned about the affairs of J&K (particularly the state of affairs that people of J&K were living in for the last over 20 years) did believe that the need for appointing the interlocutors had resulted not out of unemployment or lack of development or socio–economic disparities. The need had surely resulted out of the conceptions that the affairs of J&K were suffering due to some local conflicts pertaining to the history of accession of princely State of J&K with India, its relationship with Indian dominion, and the Constitutional status of J&K with regard to India. Had the need for appointment of the Interlocutors been for development and unemployment like issues then the Central Government and the state government had many senior and professional people and associate institutions to look into. Had the Home Ministry read the contents of the report, it would have outrightly rejected it since it raises questions on J&K being integral part of India, what to talk of retaining the report in files for 7 months and then suddenly making the contents public,” asks Shri Dayasagar.
By and large this report is broadly based on the National Conference’s agenda of Greater Autonomy, PDP’s document of self-rule, Sajjad Lone’s book Achievable Nationhood and the separatist demands of Geelani and Meerwise groups of Hurriat. These recommendations of the interlocutors will only create confusion about the accession of J&K in India.
The entire nation rejected the report the same day it was loaded on the website. Many organisations, including the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, ABVP, J&K Study Centre and Bharatiya Janata Party, criticised the report. “The report is a verbose document written in denial about certain basic realities. The key problem confronting the state is terrorism, both cross-border and local, which is engineered either from Pakistan or local separatist groups. The report offers no solution to this problem other than suggesting dilution of anti-terrorism steps. It also offers no response to the rehabilitation of the people displaced from the Valley. It also weakens the Indian position stated in the 1994 resolution of the Parliament,” said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.