J&K Interlocutors Submit Interim Report To Govt2 November 2010
The Economic Times
New Delhi: Following up on their maiden visit to Jammu and Kashmir after appointment, the J&K interlocutors on Tuesday submitted an interim report to the government, recommending the release of certain political prisoners, including separatist leader Shabir Ahmed Shah and president of Kashmir Bar Association Mian Abdul Qayoom. Interestingly, some movement has already started on the release of Shah. According to sources, Shah, who had earlier refused to accept his release on conditional bail, may now walk free without having to sign on the relevant papers. On their part, however, the prison authorities have read out to him the conditions for his bail and even videographed his “nod.” He is likely to be brought out of the Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu for medical examination and released thereafter. The release of Shah, who the interlocutors had met in jail during their visit to Jammu, will be the first “concrete outcome” of the interlocutors’ efforts to address the grievances of the people of J&K. With efforts on also to have other separatist leaders - including Kashmir Bar Association president and general secretary, Mian Abdul Qayoom and Ghulam Nabi Shaheen, respectively - released on the recommendation of the interlocutors, the credibility of the panel is expected to get a big boost among J&K groups. The panel is said to have sought the release of Qayoom and Shaheen to bring an end to suspension of work by High Court lawyers in Kashmir since July 2010. “Getting such ‘concessions’ for J&K from the government of India will help build the people’s confidence in the panel and encourage more groups to join the dialogue,” noted a senior government official. Speaking to reporters after submitting their first set of recommendations to Union home minister P Chidambaram here on Tuesday, Mr Padgaonkar said he was “hopeful” of a solution to the J&K issue even though the panel did not have a “magic formula.” The three-member group, during its meeting with Mr Chidambaram, briefed him in detail about their six-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir. “This was our first visit to state. We gave our set of recommendations,” Mr Padgaonkar said but declined to give any details. “Let it (the recommendations) be between government and the interlocutors,” he said, a day after Mr Chidambaram disapproved of the interlocutors giving a ball-by-ball commentary on the progress in the dialogue on J&K. Having submitted an interim report, the interlocutors will now take a break and are likely to be back in the state later this month. While Mr Padgaonkar is likely to visit Srinagar again in mid-November, Ms Radha Kumar and Mr Ansari will head for Leh to listen to the people of Ladakh region. When asked about the possibility of talks with separatist groups during their next visit, Mr Padgaonkar said, “We do not have any magic formula other than to keep with our efforts to be engaged with them (separatists).” “We are hopeful and that’s why our second visit will take place in less than a fortnight,” he said.