Interlocutors Want Militants In Jammu And Kashmir Freed20 August 2011
New Delhi: The group of interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir has advised the government to release those militants who have no serious charges against them and to expedite the cases of the undertrials. The Union home ministry revealed this in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by MAIL TODAY. The ministry said the three interlocutors - Dileep Padgaonkar, Professor Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari - wanted the state government to permit peaceful protests by civilians. It has also been recommended that women in J&K should be given jobs both in central and state government offices in the state. However, the home ministry refused to provide copies of the interim reports which contain such recommendations from the interlocutors, saying the information concerned the security of the state. 'The group of interlocutors has made a number of recommendations in the nature of confidence-building measures, including expediting cases of undertrials, permitting peaceful protests, releasing militants or protesters against whom there are no serious charges, training of security forces, identifying job for young men and women in central or state government offices. 'These recommendations have been sent to the authorities concerned for possible implementation,' MHA deputy secretary P.P. Singh said in his reply to the RTI queries. State government sources, however, said most of such recommendations made by the interlocutors are still to be acted upon. 'Having a dedicated site for peaceful protests in Srinagar, like Jantar Mantar in Delhi, is not possible. Also, releasing militants from jails - even if they do not face serious charges - is not practical, though many stonepelter involved in last year's agitation have been released. The police are being trained to handle civilian protests in a nonlethal manner,' a senior J&K police officer said.The home ministry, in its RTI response, also disclosed that close to '55 lakh were spent by the central government towards the salary and air-travel of Padgaonkar, Kumar and Ansari, till July 2011 since their appointment on October 13, 2010. Each interlocutor has been allowed to appoint an assistant, who gets '40,000 per month. The air-travel bills of the interlocutors between Delhi and J&K have totalled up to Rs 3.35 lakh. The RTI response says 'no deadline has been fixed' for the interlocutors to submit their final report, which is expected to outline the contours of a political solution to the Kashmir issue. The interlocutors have, however, made statements expressing the hope that the report would be submitted to the government by the end of September. Sources say the final report is expected to propose more autonomy for J&K and more representation for Jammu and Ladakh regions in the state assembly.