PC to shortly brief CCS on Interlocutors’ report19 December 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram would shortly brief Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on the report submitted by three Interlocutors appointed on Jammu and Kashmir by the Union Government. Headed by eminent journalist Dileep Padgaonkar and comprising Prof Radha Kumar, an academician and MM Ansari, former Information Commissioner, the Interlocutors had submitted their exhaustive report to Mr Chidambaram on October 12, exactly an year of their tenure. Mr Padgaonkar confirmed that the CCS wanted full report from the Union Home Minister before proceeding ahead and not just a brief (on the report) as presented earlier. ‘‘The Union Home Minister had earlier presented a summary of the report to the CCS, which wanted full report before going ahead with taking a decision on implementation of the recommendations with a consensus', he said, adding that Mr Chidambaram was now expected to brief the CCS after the winter session of Parliament, which would conclude in next few days. The Interlocutors had submitted a full report as well as a summary of report to the Union Home Minister. The summary was meant for briefing to the CCS as well as an all party meeting, which the Central Government proposed to hold to evolve consensus on recommendations of the report of the Interlocutors. Official sources said the Union Home Ministry would have briefed the CCS and went ahead with all party meeting on recommendations of the Interlocutors but both the meetings were delayed due to Parliament session. Moreover, the session remained stormy with repeated boycotts by the opposition on various issues. ‘‘While the Union Home Minister was expected to brief the CCS shortly after the winter session of Parliament, the holding of an all party meeting would depend on the BJP stand, which had announced boycott of Mr Chidambaram in Parliament demanding his resignation for his alleged involvement in 2G scam', sources said. ‘‘If the BJP decided to extend the boycott of Mr Chidambaram outside the Parliament also, the all party meeting could be delayed', they added. The Union Home Ministry has also formed a cell within the Ministry for studying the report and making a summary for circulation in the CCS and all party meeting. According to sources, the Interlocutors have also expressed their readiness to personally brief the all party meeting about the report and the situation they observed in all three regions of Jammu and Kashmir during their year long stint (as the Interlocutors). Few days back, all three Interlocutors had jointly met Mr Chidambaram in New Delhi and discussed the issues pertaining to their report. The Union Home Minister had reportedly asked the Interlocutors to stay put in New Delhi as they could be asked to brief the all party meeting, likely to be convened very shortly on their report. Sources said the Interlocutors especially Mr Padgaonkar had been pressing hard for making the report public for a debate among political parties and all other organisations besides the citizens and then implementing its recommendations. The Interlocutors had reportedly recommended Regional Councils for all three regions of the State. They had rejected the demand for disassociating political solution of Jammu and Kashmir with governance. The Interlocutors had reportedly outlined a political roadmap to resolve the Kashmir issue. The report reportedly recommended Developmental Councils for all the three regions - Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh - and devolution of powers to the sub-regions. The Interlocutors had favoured a massive economic and employment package to tackle the huge unemployment in the State and major infrastructure development to provide connectivity and boost tourism. Noting that Central funds hadn't been properly utilized in Jammu and Kashmir over the years resulting into some districts remaining ‘under developed', the Interlocutors were understood to have pointed out that funds have been used in the State at the ratio of 5941 for Kashmir and Jammu. They had called for balanced distribution of funds in all three regions of the State to end the feeling of discrimination among the people. They had stressed upon the Centre to provide the State with adequate funds so that hilly and far off areas could be developed. Sources said the Interlocutors had made a mention of a strong demand in Jammu region for delimitation of Assembly constituencies but observed that the demand couldn't be met with in view of a Resolution adopted by the Legislature freezing fresh delimitation till 2026. They were of the view that only the Legislature had the right for delimitation of Assembly seats provided that a consensus emerged on the issue among various political parties since two-third majority would be required for the purpose. While avoiding the 'pre-1952 status' phraseology, the report had mentioned about ensuring 'meaningful autonomy' for the State, while preserving its distinct regional and ethnic diversities. However, the report mentioned that the autonomy could be given only if there was a consensus in Parliament, State Assembly and major political parties on the issue. The report has also put on record the perceptions of the hundreds of people the team had interacted with during the past one year and even the views of the separatists, who refused to interact with them, the sources added. The three had met around 700 delegations during the past one year apart from holding three Round Table Conferences (RTCs) and attending three gatherings. Though the panel did not meet any prominent separatist leader except former Hurriyat chairman Maulana Abbas Ansari, the report had taken into account both mainstream and off-stream opinions and in particular various inputs from both Hurriyat factions. The Interlocutors were reported to have recommended phased withdrawal of AFSPA in peaceful areas of the State, release of political prisoners, stone pelters and some other detenues against whom there were no serious charges, sources said. The Interlocutors had gathered five point formulas of separatists Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq and documents of Sajjad Lone and Yasin Malik and incorporated some of their points in their report as these separatists had refused to meet them. The Interlocutors had interactions with 600 delegations in each of the 22 districts of Jammu and Kashmir. They convened three Round Table Conferences (RTCs), one of women activists, the second of scholars and intellectuals and third of cultural activists and three mass meetings. The Interlocutors have virtually snubbed the BJP saying Article 370 should be kept alive. Their formula on grant of more powers to the State also lied well within the ambit of Article 370. Sources said the Interlocutors were of the opinion that people-to-people contact between two parts of divided Kashmir should be further strengthened by opening more cross-LoC routes in Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu, increase frequency of cross-LoC weekly bus services and number of days of cross-LoC trade on Uri-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakote route. The days of cross-LoC trade had already been increased from twice a week to four. They had called for either freezing the permit required for cross-LoC visits or making the conditions simple to ensure that people between two parts of divided LoC could meet frequently and trade between the two sides could increase. The Interlocutors had ruled out grant of Union Territory status to Ladakh, demanded by various groups in Leh. They had reportedly called for keeping the State a single entity.