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Trifurcation of Kashmir a possibility, hints Pant

K C PantReturning after a week-long trip to Jammu and Kashmir, Government of India interlocutor KC Pant said there was evidence of regional aspirations throughout the state. Pant did not rule out the trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir.

‘Regional aspirations were in evidence in all the regions of Jammu and Kashmir,’ he said speaking to mediapersons in Delhi. He has met representatives of various organizations in Jammu and Ladakh as well as the Valley where the conglomerate of militant organizations, All-Party Hurriyet Conference (APHC), boycoted him. During his publicized talks Jammu Hindus and Ladakh Buddhists demanded separate entity, while Valley Hindus want a separate homeland Ladakh Muslims want to merge with the Valley if a special entity is created for the Buddhists in the form of a new state or union territory.

Pant's views smack of the American ‘Dixon Plan’ of 1949, which recommended a division of Kashmir on communal lines, as a possible solution to the question of Kashmir. The Sangh Parivar had been vigorously pursuing the idea of trifurcation of Kashmir on communal lines - the predominantly Hindu Jammu, Buddhist Ladakh and the Muslim Kashmir Valley. Although Union Home Minister LK Advani is on record saying there was ‘No move for the trifurcation of Kashmir,’ but from the manner in which the Pant Mission is being directed and orchestrated, it appears that in the name of ‘popular demand,’ the concept of trifurcation is slowly accorded legitimacy. Pant said that during his visit, there was, on the one hand a demand for Union Territory status for Ladakh, and on the other, Panun Kashmir has pressed for a separate homeland for the displaced Kashmiri Pandits. Pant characterized the objective of his visit as ‘To ascertain the views of the people on the restoration of peace.’ But he did not seem to be anywhere close to meeting those responsible for disturbing peace or posing as a threat to peace - the militants and separatist organizations like the APHC. On the contrary he tried to write off APHC: ‘Every individual I met and every organization I spoke to stressed the fact that the Hurriyet Conference has no role to play in deciding their future.’

Clearly, Pant was playing a different ball-game by going along with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah who is opposed to the APHC - a line that Pant seems to be toeing. Simultaneously, Pant seems to be working out a package to provide employment to the youth of the state, which also suits the ruling National Conference (NC). With elections due for the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, Abdullah seems to be having the going good for him.

Pant said on returning to Delhi from J&K that during his visit to far-flung areas like Leh and Kargil, people had advised him not to give any credence to the APHC. ‘Even in Srinagar, there is a strong urge for peace and the Hurriyet Conference will definitely have to do some answering to the people,’ he said.

Taking a dig at the 23-party conglomerate, Pant said, ‘Hurriyet has been demanding an unconditional offer for talks and now that the government has accepted it, there is no reason why they should enter into a dialogue.’

Terming the reaction of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen as an encouraging statement, he said ‘My doors are open for all Kashmiri youth but not to the merchants of death, who come from across the border.’ Pant said foreign mercenaries from across the border would continue to oppose the dialogue process, ‘As they are completely against peace, which would deprive them of their livelihood.’
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