Time To Resolve Kashmir Issue Is Now: Padgaonkar25 December 2011
Times of India
Nagpur: This is the right time to resolve Kashmir issue, a remnant of the British regime that still haunts both India and Pakistan, said Dileep Padgaonkar, senior journalist and one of the interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir appointed by Indian government. Padgaonkar was in the city to release the book 'Kashmir Problem and its Solutions' authored by Justice MS Ratnaparkhi, a former judge of high court. He said he admired the book and the insight it gave into the problem as it speaks of simple, practical political solutions for the complex issue. The three-member team of interlocutors headed by Padgaonkar travelled extensively through the state, speaking to around 6000 people. They submitted their analysis and recommendations based on these observations to home ministry earlier this year. 'Through the entire year of interactions I had with the Kashmiris, not one of them wished their state be merged with Pakistan. That does not mean they are entirely pro-India, too. Many of them wish to live in an autonomous state,' he said. Iterating that now is the ideal time for sorting out the problem, he reasoned, 'over the last couple of years, tourism has boomed and militancy is down tremendously. The state of turmoil that Pakistan is in today, coupled with the fact that Indian economy and development are in a robust condition and the diaspora doing so well internationally, the disillusionment of Pakistan that the people from the state would want to be a part of their country can be removed,' he said. Padgaonkar stressed the need to put people in the centre of the solution to the problem. 'Several things need to keep in mind while addressing the issue. We have to ensure Indian sovereignty on the region while upholding its unique status as accorded by the Constitution. We need to keep the territorial unity of Jammu and Kashmir intact as well avoiding bifurcation or trifurcation of the state as that would worsen the situation,' he opined. Most importantly, the grievances of different factions have to be addressed along with reaching out to the people in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, he added. He also said that the Line of Control (LOC) should be opened up for trade as well as cultural exchange among similar ethnic groups residing on either side of the border. 'There's lot of uninformed opinion on Kashmir' 'Kashmir Problem and its Solutions', a book written by eminent lawyer and activist Justice MS Ratnaparkhi, was launched on Sunday. Having already written extensively about Indian politics as well as the state of Kashmir, the retired judge took more than five years to complete this new book. Narrating the story of unique merger of the former princely state into the Indian union, Justice Ratnaparkhi said, 'many people have opinions about politics of the state without knowledge of its unique history.' Former Supreme Court judge Justice V S Sirpurkar narrated his vision of the beautiful state through anecdotes. He observed the change in the psyche of an average Kashmiri. 'From asking people from other states about 'their country' to warm and welcoming people today, the last few decades have seen a lot of change in attitude of people,' he said. Indian government's interlocutor on Kashmir Dileep Padgaonkar was all praise for the book and author saying it mirrored his own observations and conclusions on the matter.