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Kashmir — Need to reduce trust deficit: Interlocutors

Stressing the need for urgent efforts to reduce trust deficit between government and people, a team of interlocutors appointed by the Centre for state of Jammu and Kashmir said that any settlement to Kashmir issue must emerge after a sustained dialogue with all the stake holders, including separatists.

“Urgent efforts have to be undertaken to reduce trust deficit between the rulers and the ruled. Governance has to be accountable and transparent”, says Dilip Padgaonkar, chief interlocutor, during a press briefing here on December 23. The team was on a three-day visit to valley. “A visible difference on ground would create a congenial atmosphere to explore various options for political settlement that is acceptable to all regions of state”, said Padgaonkar, adding “settlement must emerge after a sustained dialogue with all stake holders, including Hurriyat Conference and other allied groups”. Padgaonkar was flanked by Prof. Radha Kumar and M M Ansari. The chief interlocutor said that due process of law must be observed to resolve human rights related issues. He hoped that more political prisoners and youth arrested during summer 2010 unrest would be released soon. “Out of 3,000 youth arrested on charges of stone pelting in valley, all but 50 have been already released. We’ve been told that more political prisoners against whom there are no serious charges would be released in coming days”.

He further stated that consultations were carried out about various issues including conduct of security forces, fate of detainees involved in stone pelting, human rights, governance and development during the visits of team to the state, so far.

Interlocutors visited Langate in north Kashmirs’ Kupwara on December 22 wherein local residents pledged to end stone pelting during protests provided interlocutors give an assurance that there would be no violence against them by security forces. This public meeting was organized by independent MLA of the area, Er. Abdul Rashid. “We take pledge that we’ll not throw stones. But it has to be reciprocated by Government of India. They’ve to take pledge that they won’t kill us for asking resolution of Kashmir issue. But if you still shower bullets at us, we will march from Langate to Parliament and Red Fort”, said Er. Rashid. He added “if you don’t respect and reciprocate our pledge, we’ll be forced to launch an agitation from here to New Delhi”.

He stated that the Centre should initiate talks with militants for finding a durable solution to the problem. “We may not agree with their ideology but we can’t ignore them. There can’t be any solution without their involvement”. The MLA said “we’ve unfurled three flags - white, black and red, here. While white represents people’s desire for peace, black reflects mourning the state is going through after deaths of more than 100 protesters during summer unrest and red shows people’s resolve to render sacrifice to fulfill their aspirations”. The interlocutors interacted with people from various shades of opinion including religious leaders, village elders and youth. While interacting with locals, Prof Radha said, “I heard your pain and anger and will convey the same to the Centre”.

The team also met various delegations and members of civil society. As the team landed here on December 21, it met a delegation from National Youth Corps. A group of youth said that they briefed the delegation about rise in alleged human rights violations in the valley. The team also visited University of Kashmir and met students. Meanwhile, National Conference (NC) on December 20 emphasized the need to take progress made by interlocutors to a “logical and meaningful end”. Dr. Mehboob Beg, senior leader and member parliament during convocation at Khanabal said, “Till now New Delhi has appointed many interlocutors to address issues of Kashmiri people, but without any results. Therefore, while we welcome ongoing activities of the interlocutors, it is imperative that these efforts must culminate into a logical and meaningful result”.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 January 2011 on page no. 15

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