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Interlocutors of Kashmir


Dileep Padgaonkar (C), Radha Kumar (L) and M.M. Ansari (file photo)


What! Now another interlocutor to settle the mess in the Kashmir Valley!With the appointment of the former IB director, Dineshwar Sharma, as yet another interlocutor for the Valley, eyebrows are getting raised and a bunch of pertinent questions thrown up: What happened to the in -depth reports of the former team of interlocutors –Dileep Padgoankar, Radha Kumar and MM Ansari? Also, whatever happened to the whole list of recommendations put together by Yashwant Sinha?

In fact, if one were to go through by the report put together by the Padgoankar led team, which had submitted its report in the winter of 2011, it gets apparent that they had suggested to the then government to do away with the Disturbed Areas Act and also to re-look at the implementation of AFSPA ( Armed Forces Disturbed Areas Act)The crux of that report was to address human rights violations by the forces, lessen Army presence, and to begin that crucial political dialoguing process.But that report was not to be implemented.And now, more recently, as the veteran civil servant turned politician Yashwant Sinha had come out with several recommendations which, if implemented, could have lessened those gaps, but even those were side-lined! Not just the recommendations but even Yashwant Sinha himself stands side-lined by BJP’s top brass in New Delhi.

Now that Dineshwar Sharma enters the arena, there seems little hope of the mess getting less messier. For one, the masses and even the local Kashmiri leaders are wary of the Intelligence Bureau; after all. its all too very sarkari and part and parcel of the government they have little trust in. Sharma may have retired from service but he is still seen as an extension of the hukumat in power. Who will he talk to in this atmosphere where killings and arrests and injustices are ongoing? Who will listen to him,when hopelessness stretches out to every possible locale, as ground realities are getting murkier by the day?

It is sad and unfortunate that people of the Valley are not heard, their grievances not addressed, the brutalities heaped on them un-ending. To quote academic Christopher Snedden from his recently published book-'Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris' (Speaking Tiger)-"In the sixty - seven years of the India-Pakistan dispute over J&K, 'the third party' to the Kashmir dispute - the people of Jammu and Kashmir - have never been consulted in any meaningful or inclusive way on how the dispute over J&K should be resolved. This ignores the fact that J&K-ites are actually the 'first party' to the Kashmir dispute simply because this dispute is about their state and homelands. Indeed, J&K-ites are actually the ‘first party’' to this dispute because they instigated the fight over J&K’s status in 1947 before the Maharaja’s accession to India in 1947."

Snedden also writes in his book, ‘One way for India and Pakistan to resolve this matter would be to mutually agree to devolve it to the people of J&K and allow them to discuss, debate, and determine what solution or solutions they want for what are, after all, their (disputed)lands. Such a devolution would be possible under Section 1.ii of the Simla Agreement. It states that India and Pakistan can "settle their differences through bilateral negotiations or by any other peaceful means mutually agreed upon". Both nations therefore could agree to devolve the resolution of the Kashmir dispute to J&K. I call this approach -Let the People Decide.

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