SRINAGAR ,(IANS): As three central interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir submit their report to union Home Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday, people in the state don’t really believe it will offer any solutions to their problems.
While those in the Jammu region fear the recommendations could be one-sided, focussing attention on Kashmir, the common man and separatists in the valley feel the impressions of the interlocutors would matter little in resolving larger political issues.
Three interlocutors – noted journalist Dileep Padgaonkar, academician Radha Kumar and former information commissioner M.M. Ansari – are expected to submit their report Wednesday when their term of appointment expires.
The trio was appointed Oct 13 last year, when the Kashmir situation had turned grim following street protests and the killing of more than 100 youth.
A year on, there is apprehension in Jammu, one of the three main regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Residents in the region feel the report could be “one sided and against the interests of Jammu”.
“This is clear from the statements that the interlocutors have been making in the past and showing their bias against Jammu,” said Virender Gupta, a retired university teacher.
“We don’t expect much from them and their report,” Gupta told IANS.
Jammu’s main demand is for an increase in the number of legislative assembly seats. The region has 37 seats in the house of 87, the valley has 46, while Ladakh has four seats.
There is also a demand for fair representation of people from Jammu region in state government services and professional institutions.
“If you calculate how much time the interlocutors have spent in the Valley, visiting 10 districts, they have not spent one 10th of that in the Jammu region and the three hilly districts of Doda, Ramban and Kishtwar were given just two days,” said Nazir Ahmad Parray, a resident of Doda, currently living in Jammu city.
The residents also felt the interlocutors were “virtually beseeching separatists” to meet them.
The interlocutors had repeatedly urged the separatists to meet them. Barring former Hurriyat Conference chairman Abbas Ansari, none of the others obliged, pointed out Gupta
The separatists say the interlocutors’ report is immaterial and what really matters is a permanent settlement of the Kashmir dispute.
Abdul Gani Bhat, spokesperson and former chairman of the moderate Hurriyat group, told IANS in Srinagar, “We know that the interlocutors will submit their report to the Indian home minister Wednesday, but for us what matters is the permanent settlement of the dispute on Kashmir.
“Any package – political, economic or psychological – will have to be linked to the permanent settlement of the dispute in the larger interests of peace and stability in the South Asian region,” he said.
Yasin Malik, chairman of the Pro-Azadi Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), told IANS, “The day they were appointed by the government of India, we decided not to meet them. What they write or recommend is, therefore, immaterial for us.”
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani called the appointment of the interlocutors another gimmick by New Delhi to push the dispute under the carpet.
The common man in the Valley is as cynical about the report as his counterpart in the Jammu.
“In their last press conference in Srinagar the interlocutors said clearly they would be addressing the aspirations of the people within the framework of the country’s constitution,” said professor Muzaffar Ahmad, a college teacher here.
“The fact is for those who are advocates of the state’s accession to India, there is no larger political problem. The problem lies with the large mass of people who either dispute the accession or blame New Delhi for breaching the terms of the special agreement between the state and India. I don’t think the larger issue would find any reflection in their report.”
For the common Kashmiri who earns his living on a day-to-day basis, the interlocutors’ recommendations hardly matter.
Ghulam Muhammad, 38, who lives in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, said: “I am sustaining my family by breaking stones and no interlocutor would give my family their daily meal if I stopped working. It is all politics and when your biggest worry is the next meal, you cannot indulge in the luxury of politics.”