autonomy, speedy development and a massive economic
package...central interlocutors may have suggested all this as a
balm for insurgency-hit Jammu and Kashmir, but common Kashmiris,
separatists and mainstream parties in the valley mince no words to
say they are disappointed.
Even though the complete contours of their report are yet to be
made public, the man on the street says no amount of economic
stimulation can provide a solution to the political problems of
A year after they were appointed, the interlocutors - journalist
Dileep Padgoankar, academic Radha Kumar and former civil servant
M.M. Ansari - have submitted a report that outlines a roadmap for
the government to address sensitive issues linked to the state.
The dismissal of the report by the separatists has been on
"We did not meet them; we have nothing to do with what they
recommend," said Yasin Malik, chairman of the Pro-Azadi Jammu and
Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), referring to the interlocutors'
report submitted to union Home Minster P. Chidambaram Wednesday.
Both Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, chairmen of the two
separatist Hurriyat factions, have said there is nothing in the
report to indicate a step forward on the Kashmir issue.
While the Congress party has maintained a discreet silence on the
report, its ruling alliance partner, the National Conference (NC),
has been highly critical of the recommendations or whatever is
known of it through the media.
G.N. Ratanpuri, the NC MP, has said the report has completely
vindicated the stand of the separatists who have maintained all
along that the appointment of the team was merely an exercise to
"The interlocutors have only acted like the employees of the
central government. New Delhi's non-serious approach towards the
solution of the Kashmir issue has given rise to militancy in the
state," Ratanpuri told mediapersons.
The NC leadership, except Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, has been
publicly criticising the report.
"For both the NC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),
the reservations about the report are understandable since the
report has neither spoken of the NC's autonomy proposal nor of the
PDP's self-rule document as a building block for the permanent
resolution of the Kashmir problem," Muzaffar Ahmad, a college
teacher here, told IANS.
The interlocutors are learnt to have recommended the withdrawal of
the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Disturbed
Areas Act from the state that has seen a murderous insurgency for
over two decades.
While avoiding the "pre-1952 status" phraseology, the report
speaks about ensuring "meaningful autonomy" for the state, while
preserving its distinct regional and ethnic diversities, said
Ironically, the common man in the valley believes the reported
recommendations to form regional councils separately for Jammu,
Ladakh and Kashmir could be a prelude to the final trifurcation of
"They said more autonomy for Jammu and Ladakh. This gives an
impression as if the real problem lies there. Regional councils
will only increase the void between the three regions. I think the
interlocutors had come to solve one problem and they have gone
back, carrying a hundred problems with them," Gulam Rasool, 59, a
retired teacher, told IANS.
Youth in the valley are in agreement over the interlocutors
reportedly mentioning the lack of employment avenues, but say
issues like development and better education would always remain
subservient to the looming uncertainty about a political solution.
"Yes, I am happy that the interlocutors have said the burning
problem of unemployment must be addressed. Personally, I would get
a nice job if better employment avenues are created here," said
Sheikh Farooq, 32, an unemployed engineer here.
"But the unending violence, uncertainty about tomorrow, the fear
of a gunfight between the militants and the security forces would
always remain there unless the political problem is addressed.
Permanent peace would remain elusive."
Sharief-ud-Din, 32, who sells garments in the Sunday market in
city centre Lal Chowk, said: "Teams have come and they have made
recommendations from time to time. But tell me for god's sake what
finally happened because of those recommendations?"
(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at email@example.com)