Pant finds Kargil against trifurcation
31 May 2001
The Asian Age
Srinagar: The people of Kargil, barring a few voices, are opposed to the idea of trifurcating Jammu and Kashmir and do not support Ladakh’s demand for Union Territory status. The Centre’s interlocutor, Mr K. C. Pant, came across this view during his visit to Kargil on Thursday. “We are for unity among the three regions of the state and do not support the demand of a Union Territory status for Ladakh,” was the view expressed by a majority of those who called on Mr Pant. However, the members of the Zanskar Buddhist Association felt differently on the issue. During his visit to Leh, the other district of Ladakh, on Wednesday, Mr Pant found an “overwhelming consensus” for Union Territory status for the whole of Ladakh. Though Mr Pant did not openly comment on the issue, the divide on the issue between the Buddhist Leh and Muslim Kargil is on communal lines. This is borne also by the fact that the Zanskar Buddhist Association activists fall in line with their counterparts in Leh. Zanskar valley falls in Kargil district and has a sizeable Buddhist population. Meanwhile, on his return here from Kargil, Mr Pant had a detailed discussion with former chief minister and leader of the opposition Awami National Conference Gulam Muhammad Shah at his residence. As the two emerged from the meeting, the difference of opinion on issues came to the fore with Mr Pant declaring the Indian Parliament’s ruling that Jammu and Kashmir is an inseparable part of the country was “supreme.” And Mr. Shah questioning it by saying “then the state assembly is also supreme.” Mr. Shah also stressed the need for seeking a solution to the Kashmir problem through tripartite talks involving India, Pakistan and the Kashmiri representatives. Mr. Pant, on the other hand, would stick to the position taken by the government in New Delhi on the issue. However, later at the daily briefing the interlocutor said that the centre’s doors were open to all including militants to negotiate peace. Describing his ‘Kashmir Mission’ a success, he said that after paying a two day visit to Jammu he would return to New Delhi on Saturday evening and would report his views to the Prime Minister. The surprise visit to the Nehru Guesthouse overlooking Dal Lake on the last day of Mr. Pant’s stay there was Azam Inquilabi, prominent separatist leader who is presently heading the Quomi Mushawarati Council, an alliance of some prominent and lesser known Kashmiri political groups including the JKLF (Amanullah Khan faction). What were his views at the discussions with Mr. Pant were not known.