‘Keep J&K Special, Make LoC Porous’13 November 2011
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Recognise the “dual” and “special” status of Jammu and Kashmir; review all laws imposed on the state after 1952; work on a new “compact” with the people of the state; respect the right of Kashmiris to travel freely across both sides of the Line of Control. These are among the key recommendations of the report prepared by the three interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir submitted to the Home Minister last month. At the heart of its recommendations is the one aspect seen as central to the political problem of Kashmir: its terms with Delhi. The report, recognising that the clock cannot be set back to 1952, calls for a “review” of all laws extended to the state after 1952. It suggests the setting up of a Constitutional committee to look into perceptions of erosion of various freedoms enjoyed by the state before 1952, but adds that the review must safeguard India’s sovereignty and security and also keep the welfare of the people in mind. Among the salient recommendations: * The state’s status must be termed ‘special’ as with several states under Article 371. * The governor should be appointed by the President but only picked out of three names received from the state Assembly. * The nomenclatures of the governor and chief minister should remain the same in English but equivalent nomenclatures to be used solely in Urdu could be considered. * No changes in Article 356 but if the government is to be dismissed, elections should be held within three months. And for cases involving imposing internal emergency, the state government must be consulted beforehand. * Promotion of officers from all India services be gradually reduced in favour of officers from the state civil service without compromising efficiency. * No further Central laws must be extended to the state by presidential order. The report also emphasises on the need for the state to achieve economic self-reliance, and a high degree of internal devolution of powers, with councils of each region having equal Constitutional status. The report also talks of a roadmap that starts with effective steps to stem the alienation of people from the Centre and involves serious handling of all cases of human rights violations. It calls for an attempt to make the LoC irrelevant for Kashmiris, going as far as suggesting that a consultative mechanism be found where elected representatives on both sides could deliberate on issues of common interest and concerns, including water, economy, trade, tourism and cultural exchange.