Interlocutors For Release Of Political Prisoners14 November 2010
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: Confidence building measures like releasing political prisoners in Jammu and Kashmir could help in improving the ground situation there, Centreís interlocutor for the State Radha Kumar said today, noting that Pakistan should be involved in resolving the Kashmir issue. Kumar, one of the three interlocutors, said there was a 'universal' agreement in the State on finding a comprehensive and lasting solution to the problem. 'The focus of our interactions has been the political solution and to find a roadmap to achieve it but there is a universal agreement on finding a comprehensive and lasting solution to the problem, sooner than later,' she told reporters here, wrapping up the teamís second visit to the State. Asked if the interlocutors still believed that Kashmir was a dispute, she said, 'We stand by whatever we have said earlier'. Kumar said there was also a realisation among the people that the long duration of the conflict and the division of the State in 1947 had added complexities and new factors to the issue. 'The people are of the view that a comprehensive solution cannot be achieved without changes on the ground and the solution has to be with dignity and honour,' she said. Kumar, who was accompanied by another member and Information Commissioner M M Ansari, said there was a need to 'involve Pakistan for finding a durable solution to the Kashmir problem.' 'Confidence building measures are essential part towards creating an atmosphere for sustained dialogue, which will ultimately lead to resolution,' Kumar said, adding that some measures like release of political prisoners will help in improving the ground situation in the State. She said the interlocutors have asked for a list of youth detained by the Government during the recent unrest and those who are still under detention. Asked about separatistsí refusal to meet them, Kumar said she was hopeful of meeting the secessionist leadership in the State. 'We would want to meet the separatists on every trip to the State and I hope we will meet them soon ... It is a hope,' she said. Dispelling the notion that interlocutors were focusing on one particular region of the State, Kumar said the visit to Ladakh and the Valley first was purely due to the weather conditions. 'We wanted to visit the areas which would not be accessible during the winter months. We will be spending December and January in Jammu and visit the districts in that region,' she added. Kumar said the two visits so far have been preliminary in nature and that the team will be visiting different areas of the State. Asked about the authorities the interlocutors report to, she said 'we report to the (Union) Home Minister (P Chidambaram), Prime Minister (Dr Manmohan Singh) and Chief Minister (Omar Abdullah) over here. Kumar, said the biggest challenge before the team was to demonstrate their credibility with regard to resolution of Kashmir issue. 'Our biggest challenge is to demonstrate our credibility,' she said. The academician said media had a 'large role to play' in maintaining credibility of the process of interlocution. She blamed the media for questioning the credibility of the three-member team of interlocutors. 'I think you (media) are. There have been extra-ordinary and surprising comments in the media,' she said in response to a question. Kumar along with Information Commissioner M M Ansari commenced their second trip to the State on Monday and held a wide range of discussions with various political, religious and social groups in frontier region of Ladakh and Baramulla, Anantnag, Ganderbal and Srinagar districts. However, the separatists stayed aloof from the interlocutors although some lower rung workers of Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamiat-e-Ahlihadees met them at Ganderbal during their stay in the Valley. She denied that there was any rift within the team of interlocutors as had been reported in some sections of the media. 'There have been reports about rift in the team as Dileep Padgaonkar is not with us on this trip,' she said adding the veteran journalist was out of the country due to personal reasons. However, when a reporter asked if the absence of Padgaonkar reflected non-serious attitude of the team, Kumar lost her cool saying the approach of journalists was 'inhuman'. 'He has gone to see his grandson, whom he has not seen in a year,' she responded.